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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE stories now firmly etched in print for future generations to see.

which we hope you can all embrace and appreciate.

The vision of our founding members has long surpassed their original ideals but their foresight for planning for the future has certainly been handed down through members of each standing board who continue to leave their legacy on a burgeoning Club and we are eternally grateful for this.

I thank my fellow directors, management, staff and club members for the great support they have always given me and appreciate the trust you have put into the board to live up to your expectations to keep our Club growing for many more generations to enjoy.

In 2015 Blacktown Workers Club Group boasts some 50,000 members, sixteen surviving tin shedders, nine life members, 298 VIP members, 5575 quarter-century members and 230 staff across our three venues.

Thank you all for being part of the Club history.

The vision of a few local men to create a safe community hub with their very own blood, sweat and tears has become an integral part of the Blacktown area.

Today it stands proudly in the heart of Blacktown community supporting twenty-five sporting groups, local schools, hospitals and charities and being an ambassadors for great causes like White Ribbon and the Cancer Foundation.

Kay Kelly Club President.

It has been an honour to be your president for the last eight years and to bring the last sixty years to life through our marketing team and those who have been involved in various capacities, reminiscing and retelling

While we have come a long way since the humble tin shed we look to the future with visions imbued with our environmental sustainability philosophies and a sound diversification business plan

It’s been sixty years in the making and taken an entire year to celebrate.

This is your Club. Stand proud and enjoy, alongside us all.


A project of this size takes months if not years to plan. Without the foresight of the sitting board in 2013/14 this book would not have been possible. Today’s board has been instrumental in ensuring its stories bring to life our last sixty years. A special mention must go to Kay Kelly, whose guidance has been fundamental.

To our staff, we applaud your efforts. Without your friendly, professional service our members would not come back. In particular, a huge thanks must go to our long-serving staff members:

Lesley Hamilton (25 years)

Debra Cash (25 years)

William Cawthorne (25 years)

Janine Yee (25 years)

Shirley O’Connor (43 years)

Peter James (25 years)

Kerry Toms (39 years)

John Barnett (25 years)

To Neale Vaughan and his management team, past and present, your dedication has helped shape Blacktown Workers Club Group into one recognised in the industry as ‘the best in the west’; a leader in sustainability, an advocate for White Ribbon and a multi-award winning venue. We thank you for your tireless efforts.

Denise Stevens (37 years)

Estrella Horne (36 years)

Heather Harbour (33 years)

Tracy Mutton (28 years)

James Reidy (27 years)

Hanna Lavick (27 years)

Gail Kasprzycki (26 years)

Tommy Li (26 years)

The marketing and membership team has been instrumental in bringing this sixtieth anniversary book together. We thank Andrew Quigg for his contribution to the photography. To our life members who have served on various committees and played significant roles over this time, we also say thank you. Your loyal service is much appreciated.

BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee





Kay has served on the board since 1995. In 2006 she was elected vice president until 2008 when she became president, a position she still holds. A member for almost forty years, Kay was made a life member in 2006.

Terry has been a director of the Blacktown Workers Club for twenty-two years and is the current senior vice president. Terry was made a life member in 2005.

Jim was elected to the board in 2007. As a life member he has dedicated many years to serving the Blacktown Workers Club.

Kay is a delegate for the federation of Workers Club holiday units at Fingal Bay, Sussex Inlet and Urunga. She worked for the Club for thirteen years prior to establishing a successful promotion company that has now been operating for over thirty years. Kay is passionate about the Club and is proud and honoured to be part of the Workers Group. She is grateful for the support she receives from colleagues and members.

Terry has served as chairperson of the house and field committee and served on the building committee. He is on the executive board for the federation of Workers Club holiday units, a past president and life member of the Workers Golf Club as well as a past president of the Snooker Club and five-time club snooker champion. MARK COWGILL Mark has a long association with the Club. For forty-two years – sixteen of them as owner – he has worked in the hairdressing salon situated in the front foyer. Mark is a life member of the Club and is honoured to have served the Club as a director for the past sixteen years.


Chapter 2




Bob has been a Blacktown man all his life – it is where he was educated, where he worked and where he lives to this day. Elected to the board in 2008, Bob has been a club member since 1963 and recently became a VIP member.

For the past forty-five years, Pat Collins has lived in Blacktown, where he has been actively involved with the community and church. A Club director since December 2007, Pat is also a quarter-century member.

Les is a committed Blacktown man, having worked in the district all his life. He joined the Club at twenty-one years of age, the minimum joining age at the time. His father was a foundation member and Les carries on the tradition of active involvement in the Club. Les has been a board member for well over forty years and vice president since 1988. Les is very passionate about his role in the Club and is richly deserving of the life membership when it was bestowed on him in 1983. He is very well respected by everyone who knows him and is a very important part of the Club team.

Bob has had a lot of community involvement through the Apex Club, Rotary Club and Blacktown City Show Society for more than fifty years. In addition, he was a volunteer in the Blacktown Council’s sub-committee for the development of the Blacktown CBD, as well as the Blacktown Eye Watch committee. He feels privileged to be a member of Blacktown Workers Club’s board of directors, and looks forward to the growth of the Club in years to come. Bob personally congratulates the Club on its outstanding achievements over the past sixty years.

JACK MILLER JP Jack joined the Workers Club in 1976, and became a quarter-century member in 2002. A member of various Workers Club sporting bodies, Jack was elected to the Blacktown Workers Club board as a director between 2002 and 2012, serving on various sub-committees during this time. A passionate advocate for community involvement, Jack was re-elected to the board in 2015, and says that being a director is a true privilege. It makes him proud to represent the members of this wonderful and historic Club.

GARY CALLAGHAN Gary joined the Blacktown Workers Club board in 2012. As a Club member for the last thirty years, Gary has also held various positions on the Football Club committee, including that of president and sponsorship coordinator.


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

GENERAL MANAGER – NEALE VAUGHAN Ribbon and its campaign to stop violence against women, as well Neale’s passion for sustainability has helped put Blacktown Workers at the forefront of the club industry. Of course, none of it could have happened without the support and passion of past and present board members.

Neale Vaughan has been with the Blacktown Workers Club Group since 2004 when he was appointed as operations manager. In 2009 he was promoted to general manager, a position he has held ever since. Neale started in the club industry in 1979 as a second-year apprentice chef at Parramatta Leagues Club. He expected to see out his apprenticeship and then move onto other venues and areas in the catering industry. However, he discovered that he so much enjoyed working in clubs – with their great staff and friendly work environment – that thirty-six years later he remains in the club industry. To see the Club grow and diversify over the last ten years has been one of the most satisfying elements of Neale’s time here. The Club’s support of White


One of Neale’s greatest thrills is to see the continuing development of the great staff at all the clubs in our group. To have so many long-serving staff at the Club is testament to the fact that Blacktown Workers Club is a great place to work. Blacktown Workers Club has faced challenging times in the last decade with the introduction of no-smoking laws, the increasing threat of online gaming and government changes to legislation relating to gaming. However, our long-standing and supportive members have ensured the continued growth of our Club. Neale is confident that together, the Blacktown Workers Club management, staff and members will be able to meet any challenges that the Club may face in the future. Blacktown Workers Club truly is ‘the best in the west’!

2015 MANAGEMENT TEAM General Manager Neale Vaughan Group Operations Manager Morgan Stewart Finanical Controller David Higgins Group Human Resources Manager Shelley Fletcher Group Gaming Manager Ross Siragusano Group Entertainment Manager Elizabeth Star Group Marketing Manager Monique Spicer Tracey Russell Venue Manager Workers Sports Kylie Canning Venue Manager Hubertus Country Club Brett Lane

Chapter 4

Board of directors from 2004-2015 Keith McQueen

President 2004–2006

Les Winters

Senior Vice President 2004, 2005, 2007–2011 Junior Vice President 2006, 2010, 2012–2015

Jack Sturt Junior Vice President 2004 Director 2005, 2006 Shirley Carpenter

Treasurer 2004–2009

Patricia Newton

Director 2004–2007

Terry O’Loughlin

Director 2004–2007 Junior Vice President 2008, 2009, 2011 Senior Vice President 2010, 2012–2015

Kay Kelly Director 2004 Junior Vice President 2005, 2007 Senior Vice President 2006 President 2008–2015 Maureen Mackey Director 2004–2007, 2009 Treasurer 2010–2014 Mark Cowgill

Director 2004–2015

Jim Buckley President 2007 Director 2008–2014 Treasurer 2015 Ricky Char

Director 2007, 2008

Bob Vincent

Director 2008–2015

Pat Collins

Director 2008–2015

Jack Miller

Director 2010, 2011, 2015

Gary Callaghan

Director 2012–2015

Blacktown Workers Club acknowledges Maureen Mackey’s dedication to the board of directors over the past years. Maureen has contributed notably to our community during her time at the Club and was an integral part of the Workers sport and entertainment side of the business.










1960s 1950s 1953: Two ALP councillors present the idea of a community hotel to the Blacktown Shire Council. Though the concept is received warmly, the proposal is ultimately deemed not feasible. January 23, 1955: The Blacktown branch of the Labor Party meets to discuss the possibility of forming a club. The twenty-six attendees vote unanimously in favour. November 11, 1955: The Blacktown Workers Club opens for business in an ex Navy hut, known as the Old Tin Shed, on Kildare Road. The Club operates without a liquor licence. May 14, 1956: The Licensing Court finally issues a liquor licence to Blacktown Workers Club. July, 1957: The Club buys ‘one-andthree-quarter acres of the best land in Blacktown’ on Campbell Street. January, 1958: The Club purchases a deceased estate on Flushcombe Road, adjacent to the Campbell Street property.

August 20, 1960: The new Campbell Road clubhouse officially opens. 1962: Extensions to the Club get underway. 1963: The Club buys the old Blacktown Fibrous Plaster factory, which will later become the northern end of the Workers Club car park. 1967: Blacktown Workers Club buys 32 acres of land on Reservoir Road with a view to building a sporting complex for the Club’s sporting bodies. 1968: The Club purchases land that fronts Flushcombe Road and runs through to Campbell Street, plus a narrow laneway adjacent to the neighbouring Church of England. 1969: Blacktown Workers Club is free of all debts incurred by the $1.5 million expansion.

1959/60 1959/60: Blacktown Workers Cricket Club wins the Club’s first sporting trophy.

1970s March 5, 1972: The Frank Dunn Lounge officially opens. 1973: Pat Newton becomes the first woman elected to the board of Blacktown Workers Club. May 29, 1976: The Arch Mitchell Bowling Green opens. July 15, 1978: The Sporting and Recreation Club on Reservoir Road officially opens. 1978: The Club purchases a further 12.5 acres of land alongside the Reservoir Road site.

1980s 1980: Club memberships reach 16,000; 114 teams play under the Workers banner and the Club sells more alcohol than any other in NSW. Late 1980: An extensive $9 million expansion plan gets underway. 1982: Random breath testing is introduced in NSW. 1984: The Frank Dunn Lounge undergoes refurbishment. 1985: The Club celebrates its thirtieth year of operation, with memberships sitting at 15,809. 1987: The new 870-seat Diamond Auditorium officially opens; the construction of an overhead walkway links the Club to its multi-storey car park.

1990s 1994: The opening of Hi-Lights Revolving Restaurant leaves some Club members in a spin. December 13, 1998: A massive overhaul of Workers Sports is unveiled, including a new Travelodge Motel; the official opening doubles as the inaugural Tin Shedders celebration.

2000s 2004: The Club buys struggling Parramatta Masonic Club. 2005: Blacktown Workers celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. February, 2006: Workers Parramatta begins trading under its new name. 2007: The Club buys the airspace above the Campbell Street clubhouse, car park and walkway. Changes to smoking regulations. 2009: Impressions opens at Blacktown Workers. The eastern terrace opens.

2010s 2011: Blacktown Workers Club Group introduces extensive sustainability measures, which, in only a few short years, reap the Club savings of more than a million dollars. 2012: The Diamond Showroom is renamed and upgraded, and the ground floor gaming area gets a major renovation and escalators.

2013: The Club revamps Tingha, and its functions are now held under the name Events@Fifty5. 2014: • Members approve the sale of Workers Parramatta. • The Club is recognised as a Bronze Partner of the NSW Government Sustainability Advantage Program. • The Club amalgamates with Hubertus Country Club, located 500 metres from the earmarked Badgery’s Creek airport. • A third bowling green, named after Jack Sturt, opens at the Workers Sports, which is known as the HE Laybutt Sporting Complex. • Major renovation works commence at Workers Sports. • The Club is Highly Commended at the Clubs & Community Awards in the Welfare and Social Inclusion category. 2015: • Blacktown Workers celebrates its sixtieth birthday. • The Club is recognised as a Silver Partner of the NSW Government Sustainability Advantage Program. • Workers Sports gets an upgrade, with a new lounge bar, audio visual system, kitchen and buffet areas. • Blacktown Workers hosts the ACE Awards and wins the Venue Award for Excellence and Commitment. • The Club wins the Welfare and Social Inclusion Award at the Clubs & Community Awards.

Chapter 1


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

In the early 1950s, Blacktown was in the midst of a




Its population had to more than 31,000 in ten years, residential and industrial land had been released en masse to accommodate growth and,

in 1955, celebrated THE electrification railway. the town

of its

Progress was occurring around every corner.


Chapter 1

The Robin Hood Inn was also progressing nicely. The pub, which dated back to 1889, was a landmark in the community and major renovations and extensions were underway to better serve its thirsty clientele. But a group of Robin Hood patrons was disgruntled; they felt the need for an alternative drinking hole. As it happens, plans to establish a community hotel in the area had been earmarked just a couple of years before. In 1953, the ALP Federal Electoral Council had met and discussed the possibility of establishing a community hotel similar to a successful venture in South Australia’s Renmark. It never got off the ground but it did leave delegate Tom Gibbs with an appetite to develop the plan further. Later that year, two ALP councillors, John Williams of Parklea and Sam Lane from Schofields, presented the idea of a community hotel to the Blacktown Shire Council. The concept was warmly received and the proposal was carried by five votes to three, with land behind the Warrick Theatre suggested as a possible site. However, further investigations revealed the project would cost about £80,000 and rigourous debate ensued at the following council meeting to determine the proposal’s feasibility. A vote was taken and the result was a four-all deadlock. The president had the casting vote and he was not in favour so, yet again, plans for an alternative to the Robin Hood Inn were scuppered. Local businessman Harold Laybutt happened to be one of the Blacktown councillors who voted in favour of the proposed community hotel and he, like

Tom Gibbs before him, did not want the journey to end there. Gibbs, meanwhile, had undertaken a journey of his own, gathering information that would add weight to the argument in favour of establishing a community hotel. He wrote a journal that chronicled the history and formation of the Mildura Workers Club as evidence; furthermore, Gibbs announced he was heading to the Barossa Valley in his little Morris car on another research mission. He made it home safely (much to the surprise of his mates at the Robin Hood Inn), brimming with ideas. His determination and enthusiasm were infectious and, before long, Gibbs had a healthy following among his drinking mates. In fact, Gibbs’ timing was perfect. In an unprecedented move, a short time before his return from the Barossa, a group of Robin Hood patrons had boycotted the Inn for thirteen weeks after being on the receiving end of some ‘unfair treatment’ from the pub’s manager. They believed the manager was inequitably distributing bottles of beer, which were still in short supply following the end of World War II. The bitter feud stoked the flames for finding an alternative venue so, together, Gibbs and his friends decided to approach the local branch of the Labor Party to gather support for their plan. A Meeting of Minds On January 23, 1955, the Blacktown branch of the Labor Party met at Blacktown School of Arts to discuss the merits of forming a club, using the successful Mildura Workers

Club as a working example. The meeting attracted twenty-six members of the public. Don Crellin chaired the meeting, where he outlined the aims and functions of the proposed club, then put the proposal to the attendees. The vote was unanimous. Jim Moffat was elected as chairman and Tom Gibbs, the driving force behind the project, was elected secretary. The new committee’s next order of business was deciding on a name. ‘It was originally suggested that the Club should be called the Blacktown Workingman’s Club,’ Club vice president and life member Les Winters says. ‘But this name was knocked back because if we registered under that name, it would preclude women from signing up as members. So, it was moved at that first meeting that we should be called the Blacktown Workers Club.’ The name passed unanimously and, also in that first meeting, it was agreed that the Club would be non-political, non-sectarian and non-discriminatory. The Club was to be open to everyone. And so it was. The newly formed Blacktown Workers Club would be run on a nonpolitical and non-sectarian basis and be open to both male and female members. First Servers The Blacktown Workers Club’s first committee was made up of Jim Moffat, Tom Gibbs, Frank Dunn, Bob Jessop, Les O’Connor, Les Masters, Eric Green, John Kilpatrick and Harold Laybutt. When the meeting ended, a hat was passed around the room to help pay for the cost


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee








1,5. The Old Tin Shed. 2. The Club’s thirtieth anniversary book. 3. An Old Tin Shed member jacket. 4. Life member and early Club secretary manager Jack Robinson enjoys some leisure time in the original Club.

Chapter 1

of the hall and pre-meeting advertising. A princely one shilling and seven pence remained after all costs were paid, so the Club was financial. The eager committee scheduled its next meeting for January 26, when the officebearers were duly elected. Jim Moffatt was appointed president, Frank Dunn treasurer, Les Masters assistant secretary and publicity officer, and Harold Laybutt and Eric Green were named vice presidents. Next on the agenda was discussion around where the Club should be located. In the mid-1950s, Lalor Park was an emerging suburb so it was suggested land around there could be purchased for ‘a song’. But it was decided Lalor Park was too far out from Blacktown’s main hub, which was the main street side of the railway line. When discussions reached a stalemate, Club treasurer Frank Dunn offered a very generous solution. In the Blacktown Workers Club 30th anniversary journal, Harold Laybutt writes:

’My mum used to say you could set your watch by Mr Dunn...’

‘At the next meeting of the committee on the 1st February, 1955, it was reported that army huts were being sold by auction at Schofields’ Drome and it was moved I be given permission to obtain the necessary building, using my own discretion as to a price, etc. Having decided on a hut, a place had to be found on which to erect it when purchased, so our worthy Treasurer spoke up and said he would lease his land in Kildare Road to us, free of cost for the

first two years, until we could purchase land of our own.’ The kind offer was accepted. The new home for the Blacktown Workers Club was centrally located on Kildare Road, just a two-minute walk from the Blacktown train station. Dunn was a generous man who not only gave the use of his land to the Club, but gave so much time and energy over the years too. He was named a life member in 1965. ‘Mr Dunn used to live on Newton Road,’ Blacktown City Council’s manager of events Peter Filmer remembers. ‘My mum used to say you could set your watch by Mr Dunn, because at the same time every day you’d see him come out of his front gate, past where Kmart is now – it was houses in those days – and walk up into the front doors of the Club.’ Old Tin Shed The early Blacktown Workers Club committee had boundless energy and things started to move quickly. By the Club’s next meeting on February 9, 1955, Harold Laybutt had bought an old navy hut for £135, plus £15 security to the navy department, using his own money. He had successfully applied to the council for permission to temporarily erect a building on the Kildare Road land, so transporting the hut to its new home was the next task. Removalist CE Smith was contracted and, like Laybutt, he kindly allowed the Club to pay all monies owed once the Club was financially secure. Club vice president Les Winters remembers this monumental occasion well.


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

‘The original tin shed was relocated to Kildare Road,’ he says. ‘My Dad was one of the 200 foundation members. He said to me that something big was happening and I’d better get down there to help out, so I saw her going up. They’d brought her in on the back of a long loader. Then we all got stuck in with working bees.’ Tradespeople of every description and novices alike raised their hands to voluntarily help kit out the new clubhouse, and more and more people applied to become members as things started to take shape. The Old Tin Shed, as it had become affectionately known, was modest at best, foundation member Ernie Robson remembers. ‘We paid up our £2 joining fee while we’re sitting there having a schooner at the Robin Hood Inn,’ he says. ‘Next thing we know, we’ve got the old naval hut, which they called the Old Tin Shed. We all pitched in to help turn it into a clubhouse and my brother-in-law supplied bricks for it. It had a tin roof and wasn’t anything fancy. They extended it out from its rectangle shape and put an extension on the side so you’d have to go around the side to get in through the main door. ‘There were a lot of people who worked hard, and for free, to get the Club off the ground. Local tradespeople put in hours and hours and other volunteers were their labourers. And at committee level, they were volunteering their time and effort too and were very generous. Frank Dunn was the man who gave them the land to put the shed on, Doc Mitchell was the man with the money and Harold Laybutt was the one who made some very good decisions.


In the early days, members would belt out the Club song, The Old Tin Shed, at every opportunity.

Chapter 1

None of them was being paid to do this. All the work was done for free. Everyone who was involved in the early part, they just went ahead and did whatever they could to make it work.’ Fifty-year member Rex Grant says the amenities back then were pretty basic. ‘We didn’t know what air conditioning was in those days,’ he says. ‘You had to walk 100 yards out the back to get out to the toilet. Then they’d come and empty it every week. But we worked very hard for nothing, not even a beer, to get going. We put sweat and tears into this place.’ The Old Tin Shed was starting to take shape but, without beer to serve, the Club just wasn’t a club. A beer cooler and a couple of gaming machines were purchased and the Club approached Brookvale Brewery to supply the beer – but a licence had still not been issued. It was a setback but there were ways to overcome it. The Club adopted a card system, whereby members rented the glasses and the liquor was free. Members bought tickets with one to five squares stamped on them, then as a drink was received, a hole was punched in a square on the card to indicate the cancelling of the glass hire. A five middy card cost six shillings and three pence; a ticket for five schooners was eight shillings and nine pence. ‘There wasn’t beer on tap to start with,’ Ernie Robson recalls. ‘They had quite a hard time getting beer there to start with and they tried all different ways. Then they got a brewery on board and things started to

rock and roll after that. But if you wanted a beer, you had to pay for the glass because we didn’t have a licence. I think that had to have been one of Tommy Gibbs’ ideas.’ So, on November 11, 1955, the Club officially began trading, with no liquor licence. The first day of trading generated just over £49 and in the first week the Club’s takings were £193/15/6. By the end of the first month, the Club had generated £856. Soon enough, the Club’s bank balance reached £1924, so it was time to officially appoint an employee. Don Crellin was engaged as a casual steward, becoming the Club’s first paid staff member. The two gaming machines, a one-shilling machine known as the Old Grey Nurse and a six-shilling machine, generated a good income, so two more machines were added. Meanwhile, in early 1956, the Club applied to the Licensing Court for an appropriate licence but the Club’s amenities were considered to be insufficient and the police opposed the application. On election eve the licensing police paid the Club a visit and suggested that if the Club continued trading, it would seriously harm its chances of being issued a licence. Despite extra beer having been ordered for election day, the committee decided it was in the Club’s best interests to refrain from trading until the appropriate licence was issued.

conditional licence, subject to the building being increased and more amenities provided,’ Harold Laybutt writes. ‘Having received the licence, we started to get underway again. Consequently, the amount of voluntary work that had to be done by the nine members of the Committee was getting a bit burdensome, so at the General Meeting on 13th July, 1956, an additional six Members were elected to lessen the amount of work on the Committee of nine.’ Yet again, the membership rallied, making improvements to the Old Tin Shed and simultaneously working on a roster basis to keep the Club operational, serving behind the bar, maintaining the gaming machines and performing general cleaning duties. Members would also head back to the old foe, the Robin Hood Inn, to try to recruit new members – with great success, Harold Becker remembers.

Finally, on May 14, 1956, a licence was issued.

‘My father was one of the Old Tin Shedders,’ he says. ‘The Tin Shedders is what we call the foundation members. So, he and his mate Kenny used to go down to the Robin Hood pub and try to get people to join the Club. Dad would say, “How much did you pay for that schooner? You can get it cheaper down at the Club.” Rumour has it that the old manager of the Robin Hood, who they’d all had a disagreement with, had his tongue in his cheek when he asked if they wanted to open a recruitment office at his pub.’

‘The police had withdrawn their objections and we were granted a

In the meantime, behind the scenes, the Brookvale Brewery went under, leaving

Legally Trading


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

the Workers committee to find another source of beer. Britons Brewery was chosen and the Club then had Millers on tap. The Club itself became a very sociable environment. A concert group made up of members was formed, and professional shows were also on the agenda. ‘Even back in the Old Tin Shed days, we had artists come out to perform, including some who went on to pretty big things,’ vice president Les Winters recalls. ‘But our early sporting facilities were quite humble: a three-quarter size billiard table, a darts board, a domino set and three packs of cards.’ Bursting at the Seams Almost a year after opening its doors, the Blacktown Workers Club became a member of the Union of Workers Clubs. The Club’s membership was at capacity and there was a long waiting list. The facilities were stretched, forcing the committee to consider bigger premises. In July 1957, Harold Laybutt suggested a property for sale on Campbell Street would be a suitable option to consider. It was, Laybutt considered, ‘one-and-threequarter acres of the best land in Blacktown’. The committee approved the purchase and bought the land for £8000 after some rigourous negotiations. But Laybutt was not finished. In January 1958 he also negotiated the purchase of a deceased estate in Flushcombe Road. Laybutt was a valuable asset to the Workers and at the Club’s third annual meeting, he was elected president.


With the Campbell Street property on the Club’s asset list, plans were drawn up for a new clubhouse on the site. The ambitious committee decided a seven-floor building would best accommodate their growing Club but financing an £80,000 project back in the late 1950s was difficult. Plans were cut back and the committee decided to wait a little longer before proceeding in order to build up more capital. But the members were becoming impatient and they called for a special meeting, hoping to cut the plans down further so that construction of the new Club could proceed. It was decided that the new building would have two storeys, instead of the seven originally proposed. ‘So we pruned down the foundations and were able to bring the tender back to £53,000,’ Laybutt writes. ‘Having done that, the project got underway, and the building was ready for inspection at the end of July. The official opening, by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Alderman H Jensen, was on 20th August, 1960.’ Club welfare officer Harold Becker remembers the building going up. ‘The Patrician Brothers school opened in 1952 and I was one of the first students,’ he says. ‘There was a laneway between the school and this Campbell Street site, which was just a paddock back then. So I remember standing in my school grounds watching them build this place.’ Les Winters also remembers the new Club going up, and how difficult it was to gain membership.

‘I remember the opening in 1960,’ he recalls. ‘The Campbell Street building was built from scratch on a block of land that the Club had bought. I remember thinking there was no way it was going to work from that site. Good job I wasn’t on the board back then. I wondered why there were going all the way into Blacktown, right up on top of the hill, when it was hard enough to get them to go to Kildare Road for a drink. ‘But I was wrong. So wrong that it became really hard to get membership. In those very early days at Kildare Road, they battled for members to get up to the 200 mark. But after it got going up here at Campbell Street, it was very hard to get in. You had to know someone who knew someone who knew someone else. There were only 600 members allowed so to be in that 600 you really did have to know someone. Sons of members got in, so I was lucky that way because Dad was one of the first members. Fair dinkum, one year the Club opened up the books here and there was a line that went all the way down the road to sign up for membership. They lined up for hours. ‘You had to be twenty-one back then to be a member. A few of the boys snuck in before they were twenty-one but not me – they all knew me at the Club. Let’s face it, I called half the board “uncle” so I had no chance. But as soon as I turned twenty-one, I became a member and I’d be there helping out at all the working bees.’ Rex Grant also made the transition from the Old Tin Shed to Campbell Street.

Chapter 1

1. 2. 3. 4.

Work on the Club’s new premises begins. The new clubhouse starts to take shape. The newly built Campbell Street clubhouse in 1960. The new Club, ready for its members.





‘I was in the first 600 members who came up from the Old Tin Shed,’ he says. ‘There are thirty-eight of us still alive. The facilities were pretty ordinary back at the Shed and at that stage we only had one cricket team. The Cricket Club was the first of the sporting clubs. In our first year, we played in the Parramatta District competition and did no good and the second year we played in the Nepean District competition, which we had great pleasure in winning. We were undefeated premiers and minor premiers so we gave the Club its first sporting trophy in 1959/60. I look back now and say that at the Old Tin Shed, that’s where we laid the roots and the foundations for this place. From the roots we laid, this place grew into a great big tree here at Campbell Street and I’m very proud to have been a part of that.’ Although the Old Tin Shed was no longer needed as a clubhouse, it went on to serve another purpose, employee Kerry Toms says.

‘When the Club opened up on Campbell Street, the Old Tin Shed was bought by a local school, which happened to be my primary school, St Michael’s,’ she says. ‘The Workers has been a part of my family’s life for a long, long time [and] the Old Tin Shed was actually my first grade classroom.’ Marching Onward Within two years of opening the Campbell Street clubrooms, profits were booming but size started to matter again. Plans were again drawn up, featuring an extension, new interiors, plus an extensive air-conditioning system at a cost of £260,000. The committee did not stand still during construction and continued to add to the Club’s growing assets. In 1963, the old Blacktown Fibrous Plaster factory was purchased. It later became the northern end of the Workers car park and, by decade’s end, the Club would be free of all debts incurred by the expansion, far sooner than projected.


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

1 3


Fifty-year-plus member Ron Costello was lucky to receive his much soughtafter membership in 1963 in the revamped Club.


‘I joined at the age of twenty-nine, so have been a member for more than fifty-two years,’ he says. ‘I was a very good sportsman but when I wanted to become a member, the membership was closed. I went to the membership office to see if I could join and they said with a wink, “Oh, look what I’ve found in the bin, it’s a membership resignation.” They let me join up on the spot and I was seconded by Tommy Gibbs.

of indoor sports – snooker, darts, cards, and I was the first table tennis club champion in 1964. The indoor sports were a big part of the Club and were held downstairs where all the action was. It’s since moved upstairs though. I was also a drinks waiter back then. Beer was just a shilling and on sunny afternoons, my section would fill up because I could serve more beers than anyone else. I could carry thirty beers on my tray. It was a very sociable place to be and the entertainment that they had was brilliant. There was the Belle of the Ball, which my wife happened to win one year, and just about anything else you can think of.’

‘I spent a lot of time up at the Club, like so many of us did back then. There was something for everyone. I used to dance seven nights a week and did a lot

Fifty-year members Noel and Elizabeth Chippindale say the Club was the only place to be. It became their family’s focal point.



‘Noel joined in 1962 and I did in 1965 but we both had to wait on the waiting list before we got in,’ Elizabeth says. ‘I became a member because I used to manage the Club’s marching girls. The Club used to make the soft drinks for the girls and I always had to find someone to sign me in so Noel suggested I become a member myself so I didn’t have to rely on someone else to be around to sign me in. Our marching girls were very successful and represented the Club so beautifully. We took them to Tassie, Perth, Melbourne, Queensland and Adelaide. There were three teams of Blacktown Workers Marching Girls: the Blackjets, the junior Boomerangs team and the senior Warriors, and we wore a black skirt, white blouse and black blazer.’

Chapter 1





Acquisition Time It was the purchase of a block of land in 1967 that paved the way for enormous expansion of the Club. In his writings, the late Jack Robinson, life member and former Club secretary manager, recalls how the deal was brokered: ‘The Board of Directors noted the steady growth of the sporting bodies within the Club and in 1967, decided on a very ambitious step. Once again the dynamic Harold Laybutt clinched another superb business deal on behalf of the Club, purchasing 32 acres of land in Reservoir Road for $160,000. He dreamed that this would become the home of the outdoor sporting bodies, catering for almost every kind of outdoor activity thus helping the community as well.’


Rex Grant remembers people questioning the purchase of Reservoir Road. ‘When Harold Laybutt bought the land for $160,000 on Reservoir Road, people called him mad, mad, mad,’ he says. ‘But that land would be worth millions now, so I guess he was right all along.’ Les Winters had a special connection to ‘Uncle’ Harold. ‘I remember when Uncle Harold was talking about buying the sports complex and I said to him, “Why are you going out there? It’s all scrubland and swamp,” and he just told me to wait and see. And he was right. He was a very clever man.’

11 1.  Many of the Club’s indoor sports are played on level three, including indoor bowls. 2. The Club has a long history with pool. 3-5. The Black Jets marching girls in action. 6-11.  The Club’s social and competition lawn bowls continued throughout the 1998 Workers Sports Club redevelopment.

Despite some scepticism, Laybutt’s dream for the sporting complex was eventually realised and later named the


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

Harold Laybutt Sporting Complex, but it did take some time and a little luck. The land was mainly wild bush and of rugged terrain, but when Westfield was built in Blacktown in 1971, soil from the excavation works was sent over to Reservoir Road at next to no cost to help level the grounds. Again, members rolled up their sleeves and pitched in, keeping costs to a minimum. It felt like 1955 all over again. ‘Out at Reservoir Road, one of the directors, Bob Taylor, worked with my husband at the Department of Works at Richmond,’ longtime employee Shirley O’Connor recalls. ‘All these sheds were no longer needed at the Workers, so they ferried them down to Reservoir Road and they became our tennis sheds and bowls sheds. All the members used to come up and do the work, they’d all get out there and help get it established. There was great camaraderie.’

’The Club back then was nothing like it is now. When I first came here, they had a little tin pot restaurant. We used to sneak in there before we started work to make tea and toast.’

In 1978, another 12.5 acres was bought next door to the existing 32-acre sporting complex site. Today the Harold Laybutt Sporting Complex is home to sports including soccer, rugby league, bowls, cricket, softball, baseball, netball and tennis.


Grand Expansions In 1968 the Club also purchased a property that fronted Flushcombe Road and ran through to Campbell Street. This purchase left a narrow laneway between the Club and the church next door, so after lengthy discussions with council, the laneway was purchased in 1970. The purchase of the land and the additional laneway paved the way for further expansions. At a cost of $1.5 million, the new Frank Dunn Lounge was opened in 1972, in honour of the Club’s first treasurer and generous Kildare Road landowner. It was decisions around expansions that were some of the toughest that the board had to make, life member and former director Shirley Carpenter says. ‘I started working here at the Club when Tommy Gibbs was the secretary manager,’ she recalls. ‘I was his secretary and also secretary for the board. I stayed in that position for a few years. Jack Robinson followed Tommy Gibbs as secretary manager, then there was Colin Sloane and John Hassall-Abby. I was there for eight years before leaving, then returning again later. The Club back then was nothing like it is now. When I first came here, they had a little tin pot restaurant. We used to sneak in there before we started work to make tea and toast. It was part of the Club and served quite basic things for lunch and dinner, nothing like what we have now. ‘Twelve months after leaving the Club, I missed working here so much – the atmosphere and the people – that I stood

Chapter 1





3 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

The Club’s junior rugby league club marches through the Blacktown streets. Tennis playing partners Brian and Ron share a laugh off court. Tennis players prepare to represent the Blacktown Workers Club at Lismore. Inside the original Blacktown Workers Sports Club. A glamourous duo enjoys the highly anticipated annual Workers Ball in the late 1960s. Frank Dunn Lounge, 1972.



BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

for the board but I came tenth. There were only nine seats on the board so I missed out but, towards the end of the year, Les Cook resigned so I got a letter saying I had a seat on the board. There was already another woman on the board, Pat Newton, who earned her place after a big upheaval in 1971/72. The sitting board was ousted because of some financial anomalies and they voted in a temporary board that included Pat Newton. Some of the old directors were re-elected, like Keith Queen, but it did open the door for the Club’s first female director. ‘So, I was elected tenth, then I was called up after Les Cook’s resignation and from there on in I was elected to the board for twenty-eight years. Most of the biggest board decisions related to the expansions we had. In my time, we’ve had three or four major expansions. In the early days, if we started doing any renovations of any importance, we had more members turn up at the Club than ever before because they were so interested to see what was going on. They’d walk through a snowstorm of dust to be here.’ No sooner had the dust settled out at the Laybutt fields when more work was undertaken. A bowling green, named after life member and former director Arch Mitchell, was opened in 1976, and the Sporting and Recreation Club built alongside the bowling green was issued a liquor licence. It was officially opened in 1978 and catered largely for those who used the sporting clubs. The start of the new decade brought with it more growth. In 1980 the Club announced a $9 million expansion plan.


’The restaurant was something out of this world. No one had a revolving restaurant and the question was asked whether Blacktown would be able to take it.’ Stage one was a $4 million expansion of the ground floor into the Flushcombe Road land and included a new sports lounge with billiard tables, table tennis tables, dart boards and indoor bowls and sauna areas. Where the indoor sports had previously been located, the space would become a quiet lounge with additional gaming machines. The main entrance underwent a facelift allowing children direct entry to the restaurants instead of via side doors, and there was a new function room and new cocktail bar. Stage two of the expansion included the construction of a multi-level car park with a central lift and an overhead bridge that links the Club to the car park and provides easy access. The walkway generated quite a stir, as no one had seen anything like it in Blacktown before. Stage two also included the construction of the 870-seat Diamond Auditorium directly over the sports lounge, plus a new dining venue and kitchen. The Diamond Auditorium, with its ideal acoustics and seating layout, has gone on to win a number of Mo and ACE Awards for best entertainment venue at the Australian industry’s night of nights, and has seen many local and internationally acclaimed artists perform on its stage.

Shirley O’Connor has worked in a number of roles since starting employment at the Club in 1972. She has seen a lot of changes, including the relocation of the indoor sports area, sauna and new dining facilities. ‘Back in 1980 when they announced the massive expansion plans, I’d started working in the cloakroom,’ she says. ‘I went on to work a night a week in the dining room, then they refurbished everything and finished up building the new Diamond Auditorium and dining restaurant. ‘Eating out here has always been good. I worked in the Marana Room for quite a while. If you talk to any of the old members, they’d all say the meals were great value for money and that the food was fantastic. The Marana Room was the only dining room early on. It was very popular and the men seemed to particularly love the Chicken Maryland. We served Lobster Mornay and Lobster Thermadore for about $2 and were so flat out. I had a section of twenty-eight and on busy nights you’d clear the tables and reset two or three times. We also had the Bungarribee Room, which was an update of the snack bar we used to have downstairs when I first started here. When

Chapter 1

they refurbished and moved that upstairs, we used to get $2 meals. Later we also had the Parklane Steak House where the Tingha Palace Chinese restaurant is now and of course there was the revolving restaurant, which came in the nineties.’



But in 1982, legislation was introduced that changed the habits of many Workers members, and threatened the everexpanding Club’s bottom line. ‘The introduction of random breath testing changed things up a lot,’ Club vice president Les Winters says. ‘Random breath testing was the biggest change we had to go through. It changed our whole culture and definitely affected us. It didn’t affect membership numbers but it did affect how much time people spent at the Club. And so did the smoking laws and responsible serving of alcohol laws later on.’ Employee Kerry Toms remembers the fallout well.

3 1. 2. 3.

Members gather for one of the Club’s many social gatherings. Diamond Auditorium, early 1990s. Shirley O’Connor operating the Club’s cloakroom.

‘Random breath testing sparked the end of an era and the start of a new one,’ she recalls. ‘A lot of things changed after that. Then when the no-smoking laws came in, that was another battle. People stayed away. But I remember when 0.05 came in, a couple of years before random breath testing. That was huge. There were rallies and everything and, although it impacted on business for a while, we all acknowledge that it’s been a good thing. ‘The Club just had to make adjustments. Our membership numbers didn’t drop but our patrons weren’t coming in as often or staying as long. They would stay

home and have a few drinks instead and then gambling online took off so that made it easier for people not to come in too. So we had to work harder to get people in, adjust our thinking and go off in other directions, offering different things to combat the effects of changes. As a consequence, we brought in the courtesy bus that drops people within 5 kilometres of the Club at their doorsteps, and we encouraged groups to use a designated driver. We also had to offer our members more to give them a bigger reason to come to the Club. They were very interesting times.’ Reaching Lofty Heights Perhaps the most interesting expansion of the Club’s Campbell Street venue occurred in 1994. ‘We built the tower and opened up the Hi-Lights Revolving Restaurant,’ Les Winters remembers. ‘That was a big change for us and our membership. The restaurant was something out of this world. No one had a revolving restaurant and the question was asked whether Blacktown would be able to take it. It was definitely a big, bold move.’ Hi-Lights was a high-end à la carte restaurant, which revolved to take in 360-degree views of Sydney and the Blue Mountains. It was spectacular and created waves throughout the district and beyond. ‘The best memories I have of this Club are centred around the gatherings we’d have here,’ Club welfare officer Harold Becker says. ‘We’d usually come up


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee







1, 2. Artist’s impressions of how Hi-Lights Revolving Restaurant would look. 3. Hi-Lights official opening. 4. Artist’s impression of the Club’s entrance. 5-7. Workers Tennis Club members. 8. Workers Junior Rugby League F Reserve Grade grand final team of 1965. 9. The Club hosts the 2015 ACE Awards in the Diamond Auditorium.

Chapter 1






BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

to the Club for any family birthdays, sometimes at the buffet or one of the other restaurants but, when Dad was still alive, we’d go up to the Hi-Lights Restaurant. The food was five-star and it was always such a spectacular experience. In the lead-up to its grand opening, the directors brought their families up for a bit of a trial run and they had trouble getting it going. It actually stopped on us! They got it going again pretty quickly though.’ Once the major construction works were completed at the Campbell Street venue, it was the Blacktown Workers Sports Club’s turn to undergo a massive overhaul in the mid-to-late nineties. A 123-room Travelodge Motel and adjoining new clubhouse got underway. The Club’s directors knew there would be a need for accommodation outside of Sydney for the upcoming 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and there was a real need for a modern clubhouse for its membership, so they went ahead with the $20 million plan. On December 13, 1998, well before the Olympics came to town, the Blacktown Workers Sports Club’s new complex consisted of 21 acres of sports grounds and a clubhouse whose design – based on the Hard Rock Cafe featured in the movie Con Air – incorporates bars, dining facilities, a stage, gaming machines and an outdoor barbecue and entertainment area, plus a motel. At that time, about 7000 senior and junior sports participants used the Club’s facilities every week. The official opening also provided an ideal opportunity to honour the original




2 1.


The Club sold the Workers Parramatta in 2014, ten years after taking over the Parramatta Masonic Club. The Workers has earned an enviable reputation as a food destination.

4 3. 4.

The Workers Parramatta. The Olympic torch comes to town before the Sydney Games in 2000 .

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Old Tin Shed members. To mark the Club’s remarkable growth from its humble beginnings in the Old Tin Shed to the multimillion-dollar business it had become, the ninety-two surviving foundation members were presented with a Club jacket embroidered with ‘Old Tin Shed member’.

The Workers applied for permission to develop the Masonic Club’s ground floor, then reopen under the new name the Workers Parramatta Club. In February 2006 the newly named club began trading and the Blacktown Workers Club began to make changes to make the club profitable.

‘We worked on our first Tin Shed night for a long time,’ Kerry Toms says. ‘Our Tin Shed functions honour the original members and are always amazing nights. The first few were a bit like a high school reunion. I’ve really loved being involved with those nights because it’s important we honour those members who made us what we are today. We’ve now also got a quarter-century club and a fifty-year VIP club.’

‘We applied to extend its operating hours in order to accommodate functions such as weddings, charity functions and even shows like we were all used to seeing at the Workers,’ O’Loughlin says. ‘We believed we could turn things around.’

New Millennium, New Direction As the world celebrated the start of a new millennium, the Blacktown Workers Club started moving towards a new way of thinking. While profits were still good, the board determined that the Club was strong enough and powerful enough to start making acquisitions. The Parramatta Masonic Club in neighbouring Parramatta became the first major target. On November 25, 2004, the Licensing Court granted an amalgamation of the clubs. ‘We received the court’s permission to operate the old Masonic Club in Parramatta as part of our Workers Club,’ Club vice president Terry O’Loughlin says. ‘It was a proud old club that had fallen on hard times and our plan was to turn it around.’

The Club was so confident, it set about making other decisions that may have been considered somewhat risky. ‘Back in the 1980s, we paid $20,000 for the walkway that links our car park to the Club,’ O’Loughlin says. ‘Then, in 2007, we bought the airspace from the walkway level up for $500,000. Basically, it’s the air space above our Club, the car park and the road in between, which means we can build above each of those spaces. We can build as high as we like and as we already have a six-storey car park, we could go right up to that if we wanted to. It’s like buying a block of land in the middle of Blacktown right where you want it. The opportunities are endless. ‘The Club has a history of buying things that to some seem risky, like the land that Harold Laybutt bought on Reservoir Road, which is now our sporting complex. But I just see it as us looking outside the square. We went on to buy the building that Kumho Tyres is in, just next door to our car park, and the empty block next

door to that, then the two premises next door to that. We’re building a property portfolio and moving away from the traditional income streams associated with clubs and we think they’re all smart investments.’ The Club also chose to head down a path towards greater sustainability. In 2011, under general manager Neale Vaughan’s stewardship, the Club wanted to address its rising electricity costs. With the Campbell Street venue running up a $1 million annual electricity bill, something had to change. An energy audit was performed and changes were implemented. What started out as a financial decision turned into a passion for Vaughan and his team. In the years since embarking on its more energy efficient route, the Club has adopted many strategies and outlaid big dollars on measures including a new water treatment system, energy efficient lighting, an energy monitoring system and the introduction of more recycling bins. Since introducing these measures, the Club has saved more than $1 million in energy costs. Thoroughly Modern Makeover While there was an obvious focus on becoming more sustainable, it did not mean other areas of the business were neglected. The Club continued to update and modernise its three facilities. In early 2012 work began on updates to the Diamond Showroom and Opal Gaming Room, and renovations began in the main gaming lounge. The installation of escalators from the ground floor up to


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

level one made a dramatic difference to accessibility. The following year, the focus shifted to the Sports Club, where upgrades to the kitchen and an extension of the buffet dining area began. But significant changes were afoot. ‘After losses in both Hi-Lights Revolving Restaurant and Workers Parramatta Club, the board had no alternative but to act with our head and not our heart and we made some firm decisions for both of these venues,’ Club president Kay Kelly says. ‘We decided to put Hi-Lights Revolving Restaurant out to tender. It traded as Ristorante La Ruota serving Italian and Australian cuisine for almost two years until April 2015. Since its closure, managment have considered other tender options. And as for the Workers Parramatta Club, our members approved its sale in early 2014 for the great sum of $13 million. So although we made a trading loss on the venue while it was in operation, we ended up making a significant profit from its sale.’ While the Workers Parramatta Club venture did not turn out as planned, the scars did not run deep and the board did not deviate from its progressive diversification strategy. ‘For the past couple of years, we’ve been going down this diversification path,’ general manager Neale Vaughan explains. ‘It makes us more fireproof and less reliant on the traditional income streams associated with clubs, things like gaming, food and beverages.’


The following year, the Blacktown Workers Club took the bold step of amalgamating with the Hubertus Country Club, located at nearby Luddenham. It is the club’s Luddenham location that was key to the union, Vaughan says. ‘The purchase of the Hubertus Country Club, which is about 500 metres from where the Badgery’s Creek airport is earmarked, is a really good example about how we’re protecting our future. Yes, we think that we can turn the club itself around but its the future potential there that’s really exciting. We believe it’s a smart move.’ The year 2014 was also significant for the Workers Sports Club. After years on the drawing board, the Club finally got its third bowling green. The launch was met with joy and relief. ‘We’ve been waiting for this third green for quite some time,’ Workers Bowls Club’s life member and fifty-year player Brian Murphy says. ‘I was there when the army huts were pulled down and they built the new Club on Reservoir Road,’ he remembers. ‘They bulldozed our two bowling greens and built us two good new greens. Then over time, they chopped and changed around a lot of things so we didn’t have a bowling club for eighteen months at one point. But now we’ve got our third bowling green it’ll make a huge difference to our club. With two greens, it meant we were down to one green for five months of the year because every year they dig up a green, take all the grass off it and put new turf on as part of its maintenance program. When that’s fully playable again, they do

the other one. So now there’s three greens, we always have two greens to play on throughout the year.’ Club vice president Terry O’Loughlin says the construction of the third bowling green is quite a coup. ‘This bowling green is the first one that’s been built in NSW in twenty years,’ he says. ‘No one knew how to build them because it had been that long since the last one was laid, so when they were constructing it, they brought all the kids from the TAFE in so they could learn how to do it. So, while bowling clubs elsewhere are closing down all over the place, here we are investing in our Club and our facilities and giving our members what they need.’ Strength in Numbers Serving the members has been the Club’s number one priority since it first swung open its doors at the Old Tin Shed sixty years ago. The Club is deeply embedded into the very fabric of the community it serves. Members are christened at the Club, marry there and are farewelled there at their wakes. The Club is its people – the working men and women who built it from the ground up into what it is today. As the Blacktown Workers Club enters into its sixtieth year of existence, today’s board, staff and members can look back at their Club’s rich history with pride, and honour those who came before them. Moreover, they must follow their predecessors’ lead and keep looking to the future, thinking laterally and moving ever forward to create and maintain a legacy for future generations of this much-loved Club.

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Future Snapshot Councillor Stephen Bali, Mayor of Blacktown City ‘The Blacktown Workers Club is an icon of the community and there’s no reason why that will change. The Club will continue to look after our community through its charitable donations, its sporting clubs and its other recreational facilities even as we continue to grow. There are eighteen new suburbs that have been created in recent times and where the population of Blacktown was about 100,000 when the Club first opened in 1955, we now have 327,000

living here, making our population larger than the Northern Territory and the ACT. By 2036, we expect there’ll be 540,000 people living here and, with a figure like that, we’ll be challenging Tasmania’s population. ‘The Workers Club contributes significantly to the local economy and is also one of the largest employers. Right now, Blacktown has a $12.4 billion economy (GRP; gross regional product), which makes our economy larger than sixty-two of the world’s 130 nations. So the Blacktown Workers Club is a very important player in our community right now and it certainly will be moving forward.’


Chapter 2

We are supportive

BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

From its very inception, the Blacktown Workers Club relied on the support of its local community to build the Club from its foundation up. That support came in many forms:

MANPOWER, MONEY, know-how &

a whole heap of


What resulted is a Club with walls whose mortar is

INFUSED WITH THE GENEROUS SPIRIT OF THOSE EARLY MEMBERS. That generosity has permeated throughout the Blacktown Workers Club ever since. And the support flows both ways: members support the Club, and the Club supports the community. Blacktown Workers Club supports


local sporting bodies,

a long list of local charities, organisations and schools, and it keeps about 200 people in employment.

The local community’s early generosity has been paid back – with interest.


Chapter 2

Pitching In Well before the vision of a workers club in Blacktown could be realised, the founding fathers had to gauge whether such a club would gain the support of the local community. Without that, the proposal would never get off the ground. A meeting was called on January 23, 1955, and twenty-six members of the public attended. They voted unanimously to move ahead with the plans to form a workers club. Then interest started to filter through the community. The meeting attendees asked their workmates if they were interested in joining, what their families and friends thought, and they even asked patrons of the existing hotels and clubs if they wanted an alternative. They got the answer they wanted. Foundation member Ernie Robson remembers the day he was approached. ‘I put my hand up to join one day when I was having a drink with my brother and brother-in-law at the Robin Hood Hotel, before they even put the Tin Shed up,’ he remembers. ‘At the time, I was working at the State Brickworks. I used to knock off then help my brother-in-law out. His last load was near Seven Hills where he lived, so he always came up this way first and dropped me off because I lived in Blacktown, and we’d always call in at the Robin Hood. We were there one day and Noel Silver came in and said to us, “We’re starting up a workers club, for the working men and women”. And we said we’d be in it. It was £2 to join, so we paid up while we were sitting there having a schooner. Next thing we know, we’ve got

the old naval hut, which they called the Old Tin Shed and I became one of the Club’s foundation members.’ Once it was clear there was support for the concept, support of a different kind was required. The Club needed a home. Newly appointed Club treasurer Frank Dunn showed his support and offered a piece of his land on Kildare Road for lease, free of charge for the first two years, upon which to erect an old navy hut that would serve as a clubhouse. The kind offer was accepted and the next step in the process required pure manpower. Support came from every angle. In his writings of the Club’s early history, past president Harold Laybutt recorded the generosity. ‘I had purchased a hut for £135,’ he wrote ‘…so, I negotiated with Mr Smith, who contracted to move the hut for us at a cost of £136, which I am happy to say, he allowed us twelve months in which to pay. The word went around about our success, and we were approached by painters, carpenters, bricklayers, carriers and various people wishing to assist.’ Harold Becker, whose father is Club life member Harold Becker Senior, remembers how his weekends were filled in those early days. ‘I always remember when we had the Old Tin Shed on Kildare Road,’ he says. ‘My father, who was one of the original members, would take us there on a Saturday after he finished work and we’d play out the front while they all worked on the building. It was the members who got stuck in and built the Club. And Dad

used to go around and try to drum up membership for the place too. He’d go down to the Robin Hood pub and try to get people to join the Club. He’d say, “How much did you pay for that schooner? You can get it cheaper down at our Club”.’ The early days wouldn’t be the only time that the members would support their own and pitch in to help with the Club’s construction. Life member of both the Blacktown Workers Club netball and bowling clubs, Dawn Frawley, recalls the members getting their hands dirty on more than one occasion. ‘The support of the members has always played a big role in how this place has developed,’ she says. ‘There are photos of many people getting in there with shovels to help build the bowling greens at the Harold Laybutt Sporting Complex.’ A Sporting Chance The Harold Laybutt Sporting Complex is home base for a number of the sporting clubs that the Blacktown Workers Club supports. Without the Club’s support, many of those clubs would not be viable, according to longtime Blacktown Workers Bowls Club member Brian Murphy. ‘We all love the Workers Club and what it does for us,’ he says. ‘We know that they treat us very, very well. Lots of other bowling clubs are closing down because it’s not cheap to run a bowling club these days, with the costs of pesticides and fungicides, fertilisers and greenskeepers. And land is so valuable these days, developers come in and take the land


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee





Chapter 2




6 1. An aerial view of the Blacktown Workers Sports Club. 2, 3, 6–8. A skilled and committed team keeps the Club’s bowling greens in immaculate condition. 4, 5. Women’s bowlers in action.



BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee






1. A Workers Tennis Club presentation night. 2. Tennis Club team mates Doug Farlow and Shirley O’Connor. 3, 4. The Club’s future cricket stars.

Chapter 2

over. So while the upkeep is expensive, it doesn’t cost us a cent. The Workers Club looks after the whole complex and it’s an absolute picture down there. I’d call ours the best sporting complex in Australia. I’ve never seen anything as good as this and I’ve travelled around and seen a lot of sporting clubs. ‘On top of the upkeep of our facilities, we get an allocation of funds from the mother club through the ClubGRANTS program. But anything else we have to raise ourselves through fundraising.’

’The Club helped us out no end and the entertainment manager gave us advice. They’re a very supportive management team.’

Blacktown Workers Cricket Club life member Peter McDonald agrees and has nothing but praise for the support that the Workers gives to his club and the community as a whole. ‘As far as our ground goes, we’re unsurpassed in the competition,’ he says. ‘Our ground is the only private venue in the Blacktown association. The others are council grounds so they’re nowhere near as good as ours, which is privately owned with its own groundskeeper. Gary runs a pretty tight ship down there. And, because we get a ClubGRANT from the Workers Club, it helps us keep our registration fees down and helps us to remain viable. We’re a blue collar area so by keeping the fees down it helps people who want to play cricket go out and play cricket, which is very important to our community.

‘At the moment, we have fifty-five adult teams and seven or eight junior sides and the Club agrees with our philosophy of making sure our juniors are looked after because the seniors don’t prosper unless the juniors prosper. So, as of this 2014/15 season, Blacktown has junior representative teams in under 10s through to under 16s and the Workers now sponsor them and let them play out of our sporting complex. ‘The support of the board is fantastic. We have our presentation at the end of the year and we’re probably one of the only clubs whose entire board turns up. I can’t speak highly enough about general manager Neale Vaughan. He and the board have the sporting bodies’ best interests at heart. There’ve been times when we’ve approached the Club about a couple of things and they’ve been very receptive. For one of our fundraisers, for example, we put it on in the Club’s ballroom. We made the arrangements but the Club put all the sound and the lighting on for us, and they ran the bar and we just charged for entry. The Club helped us out no end and the entertainment manager gave us advice. They’re a very supportive management team. ‘Another thing I really appreciate about the Club is if you have an exceptional year, where we might win three or four premierships, to go and buy a $60 jacket for everyone in each of those teams, it costs a fortune. So if you have exceptional years like that, you can approach the board and they’ll give you a top-up grant to help pay for the


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

presentation so it takes the financial burden off the club. We’re very lucky that the Blacktown Workers Club has our back.’ Dawn Frawley agrees that the Club’s support extends beyond the annual ClubGRANT when additional help is needed. ‘In the early days, the Club paid for everything,’ she says about her early days with the netball club. ‘You didn’t have to outlay anything. The mothers used to make the uniforms for the girls and money was scarce for a lot of us so we needed the Club for financial support. It was very supportive. We used to play at International Park and the Club would put on a bus to pick us up from here and take us out there and then back again. It did that for the football teams too. And in situations where teams excel, the Club will help to a certain extent. In bowls, we won the District Championships, then went to the Zone Championships, which we won. We then had to go up to the Entrance for the next stage of competition. The Club helped pay for accommodation. You only have to ask the Club for assistance and as long as they know you’ve done something to assist yourself, they’ll assist as well. The Workers isn’t just there in name, it’s well and truly involved.’ Neale Vaughan is proud that the Workers Club supports the sporting community through the ClubGRANTS program, but also of how the clubs support their own communities through fundraising efforts.


’Supporting sport is very important to this Club. Our junior players are our future members but the main thing that drives us is knowing we are giving them an opportunity to do something on weekends.’ ‘There are twenty-five sporting bodies we’ve got internally and externally,’ he explains. ‘Each of those clubs play under the Workers Club name. We give them all annual grants plus we supply them with our 55-acre sporting complex, but the connection is that they’re all run by volunteers. It’s the mums and dads who get in there, running their clubs from the committee down, running the whole operation. The Workers Club doesn’t get involved in the overall running of their operations. We basically support them financially and with any assistance they might need in regard to facilities, but they’re volunteer-based and that’s what makes them stand out and do so well. So, we only give them a certain amount and they have to raise anything else by fundraising, which really bonds their own sporting communities. Our rugby league club, for example, has been in the senior competition, the Ron Massey Cup, for the last three years and when they requested help from the board to fund their entry into that competition, the board couldn’t fund it for them because we stipulate that all funding for soccer and rugby league must be for the

juniors, not for the seniors, because our aim is to bring that grassroots level up. So, they did it themselves. They’ve been in the comp for three years now and should be commended because they’ve fully funded it themselves and have improved so much. ‘We’re supporting more teams than ever at the moment with over forty soccer teams under our banner now and more than thirty rugby league teams. We also support the Western Sydney Wanderers as a corporate partner, which is fantastic, because they’re one of the greatest sporting brands in this country right now, and they’re community-focused like we are. They play in the same colours as our Workers Club teams and are based in Blacktown so it’s a great fit. ‘Supporting sport is very important to this Club. Our junior players are our future members but the main thing that drives us is knowing we are giving them an opportunity to do something on weekends. We’re keeping these kids active and off the streets.’

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3 1. 2.



The Workers Junior Rugby League Club provides a natural pathway for young rugby players to progress into the senior club. The Workers Baseball Club formed in 1964 and has had a loyal following ever since. Like the rugby club, the Workers Soccer Club accommodates players of all ages and abilities.


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

1 The Gift of Giving The ClubGRANTS scheme is a ClubsNSW initiative. It is a program that directs funds from New South Wales-based clubs back into their communities. There are three categories within the program and the Blacktown Workers’ affiliated sports clubs are funded through category two, Neale Vaughan explains. But the Club’s support of the category one organisations is nothing short of incredible. ‘Clubs in New South Wales are required to give 1.5 per cent of gaming revenue under the ClubGRANTS scheme to category one organisations, and we take great pride and joy in what we give them,’ Vaughan says. ‘But as far as the category two recipients go, we give above and beyond what we


have to, and that’s the category where our sporting bodies fit. It also includes clubs like the local Rotary Club, View Club and Lions Club. How we help them is we’ll give them discounted meals or free room hire so they can hold their meetings and presentations here. We choose to go over and above what’s required because we believe it’s our corporate and community responsibility. We need to support these other charitable organisations so they can do their work. It’s all about the community – that’s what we’re all about.’ Over the last eleven years, the Blacktown Workers Club has officially donated more than $11 million through the ClubGRANTS program but the real figure sits a long way north of that amount, Club vice president Terry O’Loughlin says.

‘When you walk in the Club’s front door, you’ll see a sign that says we’ve given $11 million to our community in eleven years, but the reality is we’ve given far more than that,’ he says. ‘That’s what we’re credited for but in reality we’d have given half of that figure again. We choose to give over and above what’s expected because we want to support our local community as best we can. We’ve become vitally important to our community.’ Above and Beyond Over the years, the financial contribution that the Blacktown Workers Club has made to the Blacktown district and beyond is immeasurable, longtime employee Kerry Toms says.

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3 1. 2. 3.

The Club has officially donated more than $11 million over the past eleven years but the real figure is much higher. Relay for Life is just one of many charities that the Workers Club proudly supports. Over the years, a number of Workers employees have shaved their head in support of the World’s Greatest Shave, including club general manager Neale Vaughan.

2 ‘Even before it was legislated that clubs had to give a certain percentage of revenue back to the community, the Workers Club gave significant amounts to charities and local organisations,’ she says. ‘The Blacktown Hospital was probably one of the biggest beneficiaries back then, and it still is today. Organisations apply for support, then the board makes the decisions around which applications are funded. All boards over the years have been consistently community-minded and very generous.’ The Workers Club has indeed been generous to the local hospital. In recent years alone, it has funded dialysis machines, donated buses that could be used to transport wheelchair-bound patients, state-of-the-art ECG machines that enable wireless technology transmission of the

ECGs to people located a distance away and a specialised Echocardiography machine that creates two-dimensional and three-dimensional reconstructions of heart images. The benefits of these generous gifts are two-fold, Blacktown Mount Druitt Hospital’s head of cardiology Professor Robert Denniss says. ‘Having this equipment not only means our community has the best equipment here locally, it’s helped to keep good staff at the hospital because this type of equipment isn’t usually available through the public sector,’ he says. ‘What it means is technicians and other cardiologists have been attracted to our hospital simply because equipment like this is available. The Club has been a very generous supporter of our hospital and the work that

we do for a long time now and for that we can’t thank them enough.’ The Club’s support of the hospital stretches a long way back, Club welfare officer Harold Becker says. ‘The Club very much plays a part in this community of ours,’ he says. ‘I always used to say that Blacktown Hospital wouldn’t have kept going if it wasn’t for the Workers Club. When Jack Sturt was president here, he worked at the hospital and he was very passionate about it. His passion flowed through to the board. But there are that many clubs and groups that our Club assists, not just by giving them donations, but by giving them rooms free of charge, clubs like Rotary, the Visually Impaired and the one I’m involved with, the Stroke


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee


Chapter 2

Supporting charities through fundraising efforts sits high on the Club’s list of priorities.


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee


Recovery Club. Clubs like these are a huge part of the community and many wouldn’t exist if not for the help of the Workers. And these clubs provide an outlet and a place to go for so many people. Take the Stroke Recovery Club, for example. I pick a few people up and bring them here for their meetings, then I make sure they’re set up and have got their coffee and biscuits, which the club supplies. A lot who attend are women whose husbands had had strokes. They’d come along to the meetings with their husbands, then, when their husbands passed away, continue to come to the club meetings every Monday. One lady is ninety-three and she’s been a member of the Stroke Recovery Club for thirty years. This place is so important to them, and without the Workers Club support, I’m not sure they could keep going.’ Employee Denise Stevens agrees. ‘If our Club didn’t exist, there’d be a lot of places that wouldn’t survive,’ she says. ‘So many places receive donations from here: schools, the Blacktown Hospital, Care Flight, the Cancer Foundation, Movember and St John’s Ambulance. And we had 380 people attend the White Ribbon Foundation breakfast in 2014. Forty staff members voluntarily attended and five board members and our general manager were there too.’

2 1. 2. 3.

The White Ribbon Foundation is a major beneficiary of the Club’s fundraising efforts. Forty employees and 380 guests attended the 2014 White Ribbon Breakfast. The White Ribbon Christmas tree is a Workers Club initiative that helps to raise funds for the foundation.


Among the many beneficiaries of the Club, the White Ribbon Foundation sits close to general manager Neale Vaughan’s heart. ‘Computer Pals is an organisation that teaches elderly people how to use

Chapter 2

Priority Number One The welfare of Blacktown’s community is the Workers Club’s number one priority because it is the local community that makes up the majority of the Club’s membership. It is therefore fitting that deeply embedded into the fabric of the Club is the role of the welfare officer. The welfare officer offers support to members during difficult times. Leslie Bassett was the Club’s welfare officer until 2011, and gave boundless time and energy to the role that he loved. 3 computers, and through our funding they’ve been able to continue that good work,’ he says. ‘A lot of the people who they serve are our members. We’ve also hosted the Biggest Morning Tea, the World’s Greatest Shave and we supported Movember last year. But it’s the White Ribbon Foundation, an anti- domestic violence organisation, that I’m very passionate about. We’ve had tremendous feedback about our involvement with that. Just the other day, I received a message written on one of the coasters from the bar saying what a fantastic job we’re doing with White Ribbon. We’re the first club in Australia to be accepted into the foundation’s workplace accreditation program, which makes us a White Ribbon-recognised workplace. So part of our overall view with employment here is that employees have to meet the requirements of the workplace accreditation program for White Ribbon. It’s something I’m very proud of.’

‘As Club welfare officer I attended members’ funerals and visited people who were sick in hospital,’ he recalls. ‘It was a voluntary job and believe me, it wasn’t a five-day-a-week job, it was a seven-day-a-week job. I’d get calls from people to do things like fix plugs and get requests to drive people to hospital for 6am appointments, and I did it because I wanted to help. I had a lot of good times and have a lot of great memories.’ Harold Becker took over the honorary position from Leslie Bassett in 2011 and, like his predecessor, gives his all to the Club’s members, even performing Meals on Wheels duties through the Workers Club when time allows. ‘I come into the Club every morning and check if there are any funerals. On average, I attend four funerals a week on behalf of the Club’s directors. The funeral directors call me a professional mourner,’ he laughs. ‘For members’ funerals we send flowers and, for those members who used to pay $5 each year into the Mortality Fund, we give $600 towards the funeral or the estate

of the person who has passed away. We no longer accept memberships into the Mortality Fund but we continue to honour existing members. ‘One of the most satisfying parts of the job is visiting our members who are in hospital or nursing homes. There’s a book at the welcome desk that I look at every morning. If a member comes in and says that so and so is in hospital, it’ll be recorded in that book and I’ll go and visit them or make a phone call. I regularly make visits to our members who are in nursing homes. It might only be for ten minutes, but I know that it means something to them. I had worked on the door at the Club for twelveand-a-half years so I knew a lot of faces, not necessarily their names but a lot of faces, and a lot of those faces I see now in this role. It’s very rewarding because I know the families really appreciate it and the members themselves, they all appear to be very happy when I turn up. I guess some people don’t have visitors so to see a familiar face and to be able to stay connected to the Club and hear stories of what’s happening there makes them very happy. It’s amazing how many of those I visit in the nursing homes still keep up their membership, even though they can’t get out. ‘I feel good about what I do, supporting our membership and our community, and I know they enjoy it too.’


Professor Robert Denniss Head of Cardiology, Blacktown Mount Druitt Hospital

’...but if they get out to places like the Workers and talk to other people, they can see that despite disability they can get out and socialise and that life isn’t over...’

‘I’ve been a cardiologist at Blacktown Hospital for twenty-five years so I’ve known many people who’ve come through the hospital who are members of the Workers. And I’ve heard through them how they’ve found the Club to be an integral part of the community, providing a focal point for recreation, sporting activities, a place to eat out and somewhere to attend social functions. But in the past two years I’ve been involved with the Workers myself through the board of directors. The board has been extremely kind in giving us significant, large amounts of money towards equipment that Blacktown Hospital’s cardiology department has needed and which hasn’t been readily available through the public health system. Recently, the Workers helped us to buy a very specialised state-ofthe-art echocardiograph machine, which creates two-dimensional and three-dimensional reconstructions of heart images. Not only does having a machine like that mean we can give the highest quality care to our community, it’s equipment like that that’s helped us to keep good people at the hospital because this equipment isn’t usually available through the public sector. So technicians and other cardiologists have been attracted to our hospital because equipment like this is available. Dealing with the Club was very easy, there were no obstacles

and they were very kind. In return, we’re trying to help out with health education for their members. ‘Beyond its financial generosity, the Club is also a nurturing place. People will always do better and live longer if they’re socially engaged, and part of that is social networking and having something to look forward to rather than being isolated and getting depressed and not being able to connect with anyone. Social connections give camaraderie and the optimism that does actually prolong lifespan. If people don’t have optimism, they tend to fall away and some lose the drive to live and can’t be bothered taking their tablets, but if they get out to places like the Workers and talk to other people, they can see that despite disability they can get out and socialise and that life isn’t over because they’ve got a diagnosis of heart disease. I saw a lot of people in the Diamond Showroom for the White Ribbon Foundation breakfast, and many were relatively immobile but they came along because it was their main focus of the week. And they could socialise, have food, drink, entertainment, meet their friends, and have open conversations around health. ‘Without doubt, our hospital and the community appreciates the Club’s attitude towards health and its support of our area. The Club wants the best for its members so it helps us to get the best equipment and retain the best health practitioners so that the care we can give is of the highest quality. We should all be very thankful for the support the Workers provides.’

Terry O’Loughlin Board Vice President, Blacktown Workers Club ‘I’d been on the board for about five years, and I remember that we donated a bus to Blacktown Hospital for people with disabilities. And we bought about twenty of these beds that patients could be showered on without moving the patient. That’s when I first started to realise how much our Club actually did. We can make a big difference, and we often do because we want to support our community. Professor Denniss approached us and said if he could get this particular machine for the Blacktown Hospital, he’d be able to attract doctors back to Blacktown. So, we went outside the square, outside of our ClubGRANTS program and bought the $100,000 machine. When the local paper came out to take a picture at the hospital with the machine up and running, I was standing there with Professor Denniss and the hospital had organised for a heart patient to be there for the picture too. Well, sure enough, the patient looks up to me and says: “I’m a member of the Workers”. It was perfect.’

’People will always do better and live longer if they’re socially engaged, and part of that is social networking and having something to look forward to rather than being isolated and getting depressed and not being able to connect with anyone.’

Chapter 3


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

Long before the first drink was poured or the first coin deposited into a gaming machine at the Blacktown Workers Club,

the Club’s foundation members demonstrated

remarkable pioneering spirit AND an uncanny knack of staying ahead of the game that did not end with those early founders.

The workers’ sixty-year history is punctuated with examples of incredible foresight – and each insightful decision has contributed to making the Workers a powerhouse in the industry today.


Chapter 3

Early Pioneers When the idea to build a community hotel for Blacktown was originally conceived in 1953, the notion divided the Blacktown council of the day and was subsequently rejected. Not to be deterred, Blacktown native Tom Gibbs set about gathering even more information to add weight to the arguments in favour of a community-based club. In true pioneering spirit, Gibbs set off for the Barossa Valley in a beat-up Morris car that seemed incapable of making a journey beyond the Blacktown boundaries, let alone to the rolling countryside of South Australia and back. His agenda was to gather more information about the workings of successful community clubs, having already learned the ins and outs of the Mildura Workers Club. Gibbs’ spirit was infectious and, upon returning from his journey of discovery, he won many followers for his vision that Blacktown could comfortably accommodate a workers club. The movement to establish a club gained real momentum. Gibbs may have been the Blacktown Workers Club’s earliest pioneer but he was followed by a long line of members and employees who showed equal measures of pioneering spirit. He was just one of many who over the years have helped to conceive and implement the innovations that have positioned the Workers as one of the most progressive and admired clubs in Australia. Sitting alongside Gibbs in those early years was a small army of comrades motivated by the same goal, and together they set about actioning a

whole host of schemes to further their fight to develop their workers club. But it was not an easy task. With no more than one shilling and seven pence in the Club’s coffers following its first meeting, those early days required a healthy dose of spirit and generous measure of innovation to simply get the Club off the ground. The decision to buy an old navy hut and relocate it to a block of land on Kildare Road rather than build new premises was a wise move, and the generosity of the Kildare Road landowner, Club treasurer Frank Dunn, who leased the land to the Club rent free for the first two years, should not be forgotten. But perhaps the most inspired, and cheeky, innovation centred around the liquor licence – or, rather, lack thereof – during those first few months of trading. ‘They were a pretty wily lot those foundation members,’ Les Winters, Blacktown Workers Club vice president and life member says. ‘My Dad, Alf Winters, was one of the original 200 foundation members, so he used to come home and tell us a lot of stories, like how the Club managed to serve grog even though it didn’t have a liquor licence when it first opened.’ The Club had approached Brookvale Brewery, who agreed to supply its beer despite the lack of an appropriate licence. The late Harold Laybutt, life member and former Club president, wrote that the Club got around the issue by not actually selling any beer. ‘We operated a card system, which rented the glass to the member while the liquor itself was free. Each ticket had

from one to five squares stamped on it and you paid for the five at one time. As you received each drink, a hole was punched in each square on the card, which denoted the cancelling of the hire of the glass.’ The brazen innovation was not in place for long. About four months after opening, the Club stopped trading after its application for a liquor licence was denied. But just two months later, the doors reopened when an official licence was issued. Wise Investments Having Harold Laybutt on the early Blacktown Workers Club team would turn out to be one of the Club’s most fortuitous acquisitions. He was often behind the negotiations for the purchase of land and expansion plans. Laybutt researched and later brokered the deal to buy a 1¾-acre property on Campbell Street, on ‘the best site in Blacktown’, for £8000 in July, 1957. The site remains the home of the Blacktown Workers Club today. The following year, Laybutt also negotiated the purchase of a deceased estate in Flushcombe Road, land which housed a future Club expansion. But it was his ambitious push to buy 32 acres of land on behalf of the Club at Reservoir Road for $160,000 in 1967 that may have been his trump card, and the most insightful and valuable decision he made. It was Laybutt’s dream for the Reservoir Road land to become the outdoor sporting bodies’ home. His dream became a reality and the original block of land, plus an adjacent 12.5 acres


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee



1. 2. 3.



The Sports Club after its renovation in 2015. Construction of the walkway from the Workers Club to its car park caused quite a stir. The Sports Club grounds are named in honour of Harold Laybutt, who bought the land on behalf of the Club.

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purchased in 1978, was transformed to become the Workers Sports Club and later the Travelodge Motel. Les Winters remembers ‘Uncle’ Harold Laybutt as an astute businessman with extraordinary foresight. ‘I remember when Uncle Harold was talking about buying the Reservoir Road land for our sports complex and I said to him, “Why are you going out there, it’s all scrubland and swamp and it’s hard enough getting people to come and drink in Campbell Street, why are they going to go all way out there?”’ Winters recalls. ‘He said to me, “Just you wait and see”. And he was right. He was a very clever man and predicted things before they even happened. He also told me he believed there’d be a huge shopping complex in the centre of Blacktown before Westpoint was ever on the cards. He described where the centre would be and how during the day the shoppers could use our car park and at night time our Club members would use it for parking. And sure enough, that’s what happened.’

’A covered walkway over a roadway in Blacktown? That was a bit of eastern Sydney in the west.’

While it wouldn’t be until the early 1980s that the multi-storey car park was built opposite the Blacktown Workers Club, that decision also counts as a clever move, Club senior vice president Terry O’Loughlin says. ‘Building a car park of that size in the middle of Blacktown for our members

was a very smart move. We have enough car parking spaces in there for our growing membership and it’s currently free of charge. And then speaking of innovations, there was the construction of the walkway from the car park to the Club.’ The walkway’s construction caused quite a stir in the Blacktown community, Blacktown City Council’s manager of events, Peter Filmer, says. ‘The construction of the walkway bridge across Campbell Street from the Club into the car park was really significant,’ he remembers. ‘That was a very interesting event for Blacktown. A covered walkway over a roadway in Blacktown? That was a bit of eastern Sydney in the west. Then there was some argy-bargy around the retention of the crossing on the road below. The naysayers were saying, “If you’ve got the walkway, why do you need the crossing?” It certainly created a few waves.’ Additional benefits of constructing the walkway would only later emerge, Terry O’Loughlin says. ‘What we’ve been able to do since its construction has been really pioneering,’ he says. ‘We paid $20,000 to build the walkway and then about eight years ago, we paid $500,000 for the air space above the Club, the car park and the road, which means we can build above each of those spaces. It’s like buying a huge block of land in the middle of Blacktown, right where you want it, from the walkway level up. The opportunities are endless. We could build up and make the space


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

into restaurants, apartments, anything. It’s what we do here, we look outside the square. ‘We also bought the building where Kumho Tyres currently is, right next door to our car park. And we own the empty block next door to that, then the two premises next door to that empty block. We’re landlocked where we are, but we’re pretty close to owning the whole street. In the past, we tried to buy the old Church of England, which is now the Arts Centre, but we didn’t get it. We’re always looking ahead.’

The fIne dining restaurant dominated the Blacktown skyline and offered magni FIcent 360-degree views from Sydney to the beautiful Blue Mountains.

In a Spin

who’d been here for a long time and the Tin Shedders were invited to go for a practice run. So we ate the meal that was planned for the official opening and while we were there they adjusted how fast [the restaurant] went around to decide what the optimum speed should be. It was a fantastic night and something I’ll never forget.’

The Workers Club board of the early nineties can certainly lay claim to thinking outside the box. On November 11, 1994, the Club’s thirty-ninth birthday, Hi-Lights Revolving Restaurant officially opened with a laser and fireworks spectacular. The restaurant was like nothing Blacktown had ever seen before.

The opening went off without a hitch but not all Club members were won over by this radical innovation. Kerry Toms started working for the Blacktown Workers Club about forty years ago as a sixteen-yearold, and even before she began work as an office junior, the Club had played a big role in her life.

‘Now that was a big, bold move,’ Les Winters remembers. ‘The Hi-Lights Revolving Restaurant was something out of this world. No one had a revolving restaurant and we didn’t know for sure if Blacktown would be able to take it.’ The fine dining restaurant dominated the Blacktown skyline and offered magnificent 360-degree views from Sydney to the beautiful Blue Mountains. Long-time employee Denise Stevens remembers the build-up to the opening well. ‘It was very exciting. Before the restaurant was officially opened, staff members


‘Our family, like so many in Blacktown, used the Club for just about everything,’ Toms remembers. ‘The sporting fields at Reservoir Road, I did tennis lessons out there as a kid. And Mum and Dad were members of the Club so they’d sometimes get a babysitter in for us so they could come to the big shows, or come for something to eat. I remember that Dad would bring us here for our birthdays and we’d go to the dining room and were allowed to bring a friend each. It was a very big part of our lives. I also remember getting my membership when I turned twenty-one. I’d been working

here for quite a while at that stage but it was still exciting. ‘Dad’s connection to the Club went a long way back. He’d been a member for a long time when the revolving restaurant was built. He used to work in the city and catch the train back to Blacktown, arriving at about 3.30pm. Then he would walk up to the Club and have about two beers with his big circle of friends, then go back to the station and catch a bus back home. The Club meant a lot to Dad. But when the revolving restaurant went in, Dad dug his heels in and refused to go. “We’re a Workers Club”, he’d say. Hi-Lights was advertised as a five-star restaurant and the staff wore gloves to serve the meals; to Dad, and some others, it was a long way removed from the Club’s roots. So it did cause a bit of a stir and it took a bit of convincing to get some of the members to come along but once they came, they were won over – except Dad, who’s still not set foot in the place.’ The most recent acquisition for the Blacktown Workers Club was the purchase of the Hubertus Country Club at Luddenham at the end of 2014. It is a decision that shrewd investor Harold Laybutt would have been proud of, and one that Club president Kay Kelly holds high hopes for.

Chapter 3


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee



Chapter 3 1. 2. 3.

The Workers Hubertus Country Club is the Club’s newest acquisition. Spectacular grounds are just one of the Workers Hubertus Country Club’s assets. Director Pat Collins, treasurer Jim Buckley, vice president Terry O’Loughlin, Workers Hubertus venue manager Brett Lane, president Kay Kelly, director Bob Vincent, director Les Winters and general manager Neale Vaughan at Workers Hubertus.


‘Our members voted unanimously for the Hubertus Club acquisition,’ she says. ‘That club was struggling but we saw some real future potential there. We’ll pay out their debts and then get it working better so it becomes cash flow efficient. We’ll probably spend about $1 million on it, doing it up and doing some landscaping and updating the gaming machines in there. We probably won’t reap a whole lot of benefits any time soon, but future boards will. We’re looking at it to leave as a legacy for the future. And if we think back to our foundation members who had the foresight to purchase the 54 acres that we’ve got at the Sports Club, we’re thinking ahead about what we can leave for future boards so they’ve got capital and money to work with.

‘The major appeal of the Hubertus Club is that it’s about twenty-five minutes away, it sits on 25 acres and is right next to where they’re building Sydney’s new airport, so we think it’s a pretty smart investment. In the short term, we want to get the cash flow going but, beyond that, there’s lots of scope for other revenue streams, like a motel for instance.’ The acquisition of the Hubertus Club sits within the Blacktown Workers Club’s diversification strategy, as the Club’s management has identified that traditional revenue streams may no longer be enough in a changing economy. ‘We’re trying to diversify, like all clubs in NSW are now, because clubs can’t just rely on gaming,’ Kay Kelly explains. ‘Our local population’s expendable


income is going down as people are paying higher amounts on mortgages, spending more money on children and the cost of living, so they don’t have as much money for leisure activities. People aren’t putting as much into the gaming machines, and even though our dining out experiences are still good, there’s not as much money for eating out and drinking. So, by diversifying, we’re trying to find ways to generate money from other income streams, perhaps through buying properties and generating rental income, like we’ve managed to do down the street from the Club here. Inside the Club, we lease out the barber shop, we lease out some of our restaurant space and lease out the gym, so we’re getting revenue from rentals and looking at other ways we can do it too. We also own the


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

air space that connects the car park and the Club so in the future we could think about building there. So there are quite a lot of ways for building revenue to sustain the club when we’re not here. ‘Down the line, we’ve got visions of putting in childcare centres, which would only help the community because there are a heck of a lot of new homes going up between here and the Windsor corridor and out towards Camden. There are projections that there’ll be 30,000 home sites open up so there’ll be a big demand for childcare and that’s why we’re looking at how we can put childcare into our portfolio. And there are other visions, like senior living and a state-of-the-art sports stadium. These are all things that can sustain the Club but they also help to address our community’s needs. And that’s at the centre of every decision we make. We always have to make sure the club runs at a profit, because without that healthy bottom line, we couldn’t do what we do for our community.’ Easy Being Green While Kelly and her Board are excited and proud of the direction the Club is taking to ensure it remains financially sustainable, Club general manager Neale Vaughan is particularly proud of the Club’s innovations around sustainability, efficiency and the environment. ‘We’ve really led the way and implemented a lot of changes over the last few years,’ Vaughan says. ‘Our sustainability record is the best in the


industry now and clubs, organisations and businesses are coming to us to learn how we do things. ‘Initially, we made the changes for financial reasons. About five years ago, we were paying far too much for our utility bills. We were paying over $1 million for electricity for the Blacktown Workers Club alone. So, we identified we had to reduce these costs. With all these gaming taxes we have to pay and the introduction of no smoking, the days of just opening your doors and making a lot of money and not worrying about what you were paying on your bills were gone. So we decided to do something about it. We started out by completing an energy audit to work out where we needed to make changes. Our first task was to change our lights to more energy efficient ones, and then we became the first club in Australia to bring in an EP&T monitoring system, which allows us to monitor gas and water consumption and energy usage so we can ensure our utilities are being used in the most efficient and sustainable way.’ The Club was also Australia’s first club to instal a water-retention plant. The plant, located at the Workers Sports Complex, captures all the water from the Club and motel, which it then recycles to maintain the complex’s grounds. Where the clubhouse, two soccer fields, two rugby fields/cricket ovals, two (now three) bowling greens, five all-weather tennis courts, baseball diamond and 120-room motel were previously serviced using water from a stormwater dam, irregular rainfall and water restrictions precluded regular irrigation.

‘The new water treatment system we have onsite uses recycled water from the motel and club to fill the gap in the water supply. It’s been a fabulous innovation,’ Vaughan says. ‘So in three years, by making these changes, we’ve saved nearly $1.5 million in energy costs. We were a finalist in the Green Globe Awards in 2014 and highly commended in the Sustainable Cities Awards. We’re also a silver partner with the government’s Sustainable Advantage Program. We have people coming to us to look at what we’re doing all the time and are a leader in sustainable practices. So not only are we doing the right thing for our environment, the financial rewards are there too. We’re saving half a million dollars a year, that’s half a million dollars of members’ money that goes back to the bottom line, to our sporting bodies and our community. It means we can afford to pay $170,000 for a heart ECHO machine at Blacktown Hospital, we can donate to the White Ribbon Foundation and support a whole multitude of community organisations. Through a little innovation, many can benefit.’

Chapter 3



1. 2. 3.

The Blacktown Hospital now has a heart echo machine thanks to the Workers Club. The local hospital is a regular recipient of the Club’s fundraising efforts. Water tanks play a major role in the Club’s innovative eco-friendly initiatives.



Sustainable Practices The difference a year can make. In September 2014 Blacktown Workers Club’s electricity usage was down 39.85 per cent compared with September 2013, gas usage was down a staggering 49 per cent and water usage was reduced by 40 per cent, and its sustainability program is the envy of clubs right around Australia. In January 2014 the Club launched its ‘We Care’ initiative, committing to sustainable practices across all facets of the business. Some of the introduced measures include:

Co-Mingle Recycling The introduction of the co-mingle recycling system also saw immediate positive change, with only 2 per cent of the Club’s generated waste ending up as landfill. About 43 per cent of the group’s total landfill waste had been paper, but the introduction of desk paper recycling bins and employee education has led to all paper now being recycled.

Sports Club Lawn Fertilisation Since the installation of the Pulpmaster food waste recycling system, the Sports Club has used a by-product of the anaerobic digestion process to fertilise its playing fields. The by-product is a nutrient rich sludge, which is dried and granulated then sold as organic fertiliser.

Solar Power With 860 solar power units and a 100 kilowatt system installed at both the Blacktown Workers Club and the Workers Sports Club, the group is an industry leader. Between these two installations, the Clubs should see just under 300,000 kilowatt hours offset from electricity bills each year.

LED Lighting The installation of LED lighting was the first step undertaken after the Club’s energy audit and the results were immediate.

Pulpmaster Since the installation of a Pulpmaster 4000 food waste recycling system, the Club’s landfill rates have dropped dramatically. The food waste recycling system is a cutting edge solution for the recycling of food waste in commercial food businesses. It allows easy separation of food waste for recovery as a clean source for organic compost and/ or for electricity generation through anaerobic digestion.

EP&T Edge Monitoring System The Blacktown Workers Club was the first club in Australia to implement the EP&T Edge Monitoring System. The system monitors the Club’s gas and water consumption plus its energy usage, allowing the Club to determine whether utilities are being used in the most efficient way, and identifying any areas of concern to be addressed.

Team Eco Blacktown Workers Club has engaged all staff and contractors in its sustainability program. Staff education and training is a high priority and all employees are encouraged to get involved via Team Eco. Made up of dedicated managers and employees who are passionate about sustainability, Team Eco actively encourages others to submit their green ideas to management for consideration.

Aquacell Clearwater Treatment System In a first for Sydney, the Workers Sports Club now recycles its water to maintain its sporting complex. The Harold Laybutt Sporting Complex encompasses a clubhouse, two soccer fields, two rugby league fields/ cricket ovals, three bowling greens, five all-weather tennis courts, a baseball diamond and a 120-room motel. Before the treatment system was installed, all playing fields were irrigated using a storm water dam with a 1.4 megalitre capacity. But with irregular rainfall and the introduction of water restrictions, there had been an insufficient supply of water to keep the playing fields in top condition. The waste water recycling facility on site now uses recycled water from the Sporting Club and Hotel to fill the gap in its water supply.

Chapter 4


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

The Australian Open Final is not played on a suburban tennis court;

a local football ground would never be the venue for a modern-day AFL or NRL grand fiFInal.



In March

2015, the Australian Club Entertainment Awards were staged at the Blacktown Workers Club. That the Club’s Diamond Showroom was selected

as the venue for the entertainment industry’s night of nights speaks volumes for how the Club is recognised as a major player in the Australian entertainment world. The Club’s reputation as a premium entertainment venue is not a recent phenomenon – it has been entertaining and engaging its members since its very early days.


Chapter 4

Happy Engagement Ask any one of the 52,000-plus Blacktown Workers Club members what their Club does best and, for many, the answer would be engage with its members and community. Every arm of the business focuses on engagement, be it the sporting and leisure clubs, promotional activities, dining experiences or massive community events and fundraisers, including the Children’s Christmas party, White Ribbon Foundation breakfast and Hawkesbury Guineas race day. Engaging with its members through pure entertainment began early in the Club’s history, and has led to countless accolades, including prestigious entertainment industry Mo Awards. Club vice president and life member Les Winters remembers those early days well. ‘Even back in the Old Tin Shed days, we had artists come out to perform, including some who went on to pretty big things,’ he recalls. ‘Another thing I remember very clearly was the Club’s own concert parties, where members would get up and sing or do comedy acts. It wasn’t a talent show, more a variety show with everything – singers, dancers, comedians and impersonators. There were some pretty talented performers and we always had big numbers attend those nights. Sunday afternoon concerts also used to be big. They were great because it was somewhere to go after the football.’ Member and former Club employee Ron Costello also fondly recalls the Club concerts.

‘About every three months, the Club’s members would put on a show,’ he says. ‘Members got together and would tell jokes, sing or dance. One of the members would dress up as Al Jolson. We’d have these shows and the Club would be filled at 3pm for a 5pm show. It was just great. There’d be a bigger crowd than when the top artists would come in.’ That’s Entertainment Once the Club moved its premises away from the primitive facilities at the Old Tin Shed, the entertainment side of the business took off. Entertainment became such an important part of the Blacktown Workers Club that a dedicated entertainment office was established and an entertainment manager appointed. The office was responsible for many facets of the Club’s entertainment, including booking professional acts, organising ticketing for events, arranging in-house concerts and productions, special events and regular activities like bingo, as well as hosting events like dances and pageants. Club president Kay Kelly started her association with the Blacktown Workers Club as a member of the entertainment office team. ‘The entertainment side of our business has always been very important to us,’ she says. ‘I started out at the Workers in our entertainment office when I was in my early twenties. To be honest, I was quite naive as I hadn’t worked in a club before and was still pretty young with a young family at home. I can remember the day I was interviewed for the position.

Club President Kay Kelly.

When the lady whose position I took over was interviewing me, she was telling me all about the type of entertainment that we had on here and what the role of the entertainment office was. She started talking about booked shows, meaning entertainment shows where they have artists perform in the auditorium and that people needed to book to attend. Having never worked in a club environment, I had no idea what she was talking about and had in my head books when she referred to booked shows. I seriously had no idea about the industry at that stage. She told me we had to get all our tickets ready, hundreds of tickets, because on Saturday nights we’d sell the tickets for these shows. And all I’m


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee






Chapter 4


1. The Club plays host to many celebrations every year. 2-6. Concert parties were highly anticipated events in the Club’s early years. 7. The Diamond Showroom is one of the state’s premium entertainment venues.

7 6


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee


Chapter 4


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

thinking is why on earth do you need a ticket to come to the Club and read books? I just couldn’t fathom why people would come to a club, buy a drink and sit and read, and why you would print hundreds of tickets for it! I didn’t want to show my ignorance though so I just went along with her. It’s surprising I got the job really. ‘It turned out to be true that we did have to be very organised for those shows. We would sell hundreds of tickets. Members used to have to go to reception, queue – and the queues could get pretty long depending who the artists were – buy your tickets and book your seats. I ended up working in the entertainment office for a long time.’

’Over the years, we’ve run movie nights, ladies day (now Champagne Wednesday, with men welcome to attend) and there are special events for Mother’s Day and New Year’s Eve.’

Denise Stevens took over from Kay Kelly in the entertainment office. She is still a valued member of the entertainment team. ‘We had mostly free entertainment at the Club,’ Stevens remembers of the seventies and eighties. ‘We’d put on cabaret shows, a country show, and discos on Friday nights. One Wednesday each month we’d host a ladies day, where women could come to our Club, have lunch and meet friends in a sociable and safe environment. There’d be a compere for the event and games, sort of like ones you’d play at a bridal shower, with prizes to be won. When I first started in the office in 1978, the entertainment


was provided by an outside agent and we just paid the cheques. They put the shows together and presented them with their own comperes. But that system later changed.’ Kerry Toms has also been a long-time entertainment office worker. ‘As far as I know, there’s always been bingo for our members and we’ve had an old-tyme dance with a band leader that’s been going every Thursday night since I first started work here,’ Toms says. ‘Over the years, we’ve run movie nights, ladies day (now Champagne Wednesday, with men welcome to attend) and there are special events for Mother’s Day and New Year’s Eve. ‘I started work at the Club as an office junior in 1976 when I was sixteen. But after my first baby was born, Kay Kelly left the Club and I took a part-time job with Denise Stevens in the entertainment office. I now work as assistant to the entertainment manager. Back in those days, there were lots more cabaret-type shows where a few people were thrown together, whereas today we have much more professional productions with all the fancy lighting and sound. ‘It was quite extraordinary how popular the shows were back then. We used the ballroom and we had a mezzanine level from where you could look down and watch the show. It only held a few hundred people, whereas the big Diamond Auditorium, which opened in 1987, now holds 870 and means we can accommodate far more members.’

Chapter 4

There is regularly a ‘full house’ at the Club’s bingo.


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee


Chapter 4 Mark Vincent and Marina Prior performing at the Club in May 2015.

’I remember one year I was a judge for our talent quest. We had a group called The Four Trax appear as one of the contestants. They went on to change their name to Human Nature and we know how successful they’ve become.’ The Club keeps show ticket prices low in an effort to keep its members engaged. ‘Our regular shows are only about $7.50, so it’s still affordable to have a Saturday night out at a show,’ Toms says. ‘We have groups that come every week and sit in the same spot. It’s very much a part of their lives. Then we have the higher priced shows. But it’s harder to sell tickets these days. You’ve got to work really hard to get people in because there are so many things competing for your dollar. Before, you’d just put a show on and it’d fill up.’ Life member and former Club treasurer Shirley Carpenter says the Club has always made entertainment a priority and has been keeping its members engaged through its entertainment program for as long as she can remember. ‘We had some fantastic entertainment when I worked here,’ she says. ‘We had Marcia Hines here in concert one time and the queue for the tickets went out the door and down the street as far as your eye could see. Whenever it was anyone that was really well known the queues were crazy.

‘Over the years, a lot of venues couldn’t afford the better acts and a lot of venues were trying other things, but we’ve always had live entertainment here and it’s always been fantastic. I remember we had Don Lane perform in concert here on the night we farewelled Tommy Gibbs. We had Johnny O’Keefe, Barry Crocker and lots more. Everyone wanted to come and play here, and we only charged fifty cents for entry. I’ll never forget when someone got up at the AGM and kicked up a real stink because we’d put the ticket prices up to fifty cents. ‘It wasn’t just the big name acts that would draw big crowds. Emerging artists were also very well received and we saw many people perform here who went on to bigger and better things. I remember one year I was a judge for our talent quest. We had a group called The Four Trax appear as one of the contestants. They went on to change their name to Human Nature and we know how successful they’ve become.’ Working in the Club’s cloakroom, Shirley O’Connor got to meet a lot of visiting performers.

‘I’d always introduce myself, shake their hands and welcome them to the Club,’ she recalls. ‘We had so many good artists. Andy Stewart was here and Frankie Laine and I even took John Cootes’ guitar in the cloakroom when he was entertaining here one night. We also had the Bee Gees, Sandy Scott, Johnny Ray and Jon English.’ Hosting live shows is just one of many ways the Blacktown Workers Club engages with its members. At the Workers Sports Club, there are large screens set up so members can watch live televised sport, and the Club regularly hosts live bands, which attract younger members. And years ago when people under the age of twenty-one couldn’t attend the Club, the younger members of the community were not forgotten. ‘My family’s been involved in the Workers sporting clubs here for many years,’ Brett Fielding says. ‘Because a lot of the sporting clubs play and train here at the Harold Laybutt Sporting Complex, there’s a younger demographic that uses these facilities at the Workers Sports Club. It’s always been a very sociable place but I do remember that they used to have a thing called the Younger Set dance at the Blacktown Civic Centre. The Workers Club would put on a dance for the younger crowds back in the seventies. You had to be twenty-one to be a Club member so the Younger Set dances were a bit like Blue Light discos and were great fun for the younger community.’ Even today, the Blacktown Workers Club is actively working on ways to engage


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

Entertainers at Blacktown Workers Club



Allen " Todd is, in a show of his ow n creation , m agnetic , exciting, out t here and above all memorable" Al a n Jones 2GB

" Todd McKenney out shines t he sequins on his shir ts" Herald Sun

w w . au presente d by T heatr icHal s


Chapter 4

Swingin’ NOW WE’RE

tom burlinson salutes the masters of swing

sammy davis jr, frank sinatra, tony bennett, nat king cole and bobby darin & the swing superstars of today - harry connick jr, michael buble and robbie williams




broadway & beyond spring 2010

Swing Favourites, The Hits & More Lovin’ Drawing on both his theatrical background, and his multi-platinum swing and rock albums, “Broadway & Beyond” will give audiences a thrilling ride through Campbellʼs unique career – including songs from The Swing Sessions 1 & 2, Good Lovinʼ, On Broadway and more


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee Head Chef Stuart Walton started work with the Club in 2014.

with a younger demographic, president Kay Kelly says. ‘For many years, our Club has been known as a club for older people so we’re trying to entice the younger ones by bringing in bands on Friday nights,’ she explains. ‘And we’ve had a great response to that. We also have things like singles nights, which were unheard of not long ago. We have to move with the times and attract people from all demographics because if you don’t adapt and grow with changes, you fall away.’ The sporting clubs definitely help to attract a younger demographic to Workers venues as they are safe and sociable environments, Brett Fielding says. ‘When I was a teenager, we’d catch a bus into Blacktown to the main club, then they’d have a shuttle bus to take us down to the sports club. Sometimes we’d walk or jog down together. But now that there’s entertainment and good facilities here at the Workers Sports Club, a lot of us come here for dinner or just to catch up once sport has finished. It’s a very sociable environment.’ Workers Men’s Bowls Club’s Brian Murphy agrees that the club’s sporting bodies engage with their members so well because they are largely social environments. ‘We used to have a lot of social nights at the bowls club,’ he says. ‘And there used to be a kitchen down there so we’d cook up breakfasts for the bowlers on Sunday mornings – lamb’s fry and bacon, and mashed potato and gravy before we’d


go out and play bowls. Although there’s no kitchen down there now, there are barbecues so we’ll often have barbecued breakfasts, sausages and bacon and eggs. We try to make it very sociable.’ Dinner Time While lamb’s fry might not be to everyone’s taste, providing a range of dining options also helps to engage members of the Blacktown community and beyond. Over time, there has been everything from Italian to Chinese cuisine and smorgasbord buffets to fine dining options. ‘The thing I liked best about this Club, and what holds the most significant memories for me, involved eating out here,’ member Ron Costello says. ‘My favourite memory is when we used to take our kids as a family to the Bungarribee Room. The kids weren’t allowed in the clubs so they had to come through this side door. But we’d always have a good meal and good conversations together as a family.’ Shirley O’Connor worked in one of the Club’s restaurants earlier in her career and remembers the different dining offerings over the years. ‘We used to have a restaurant called the Marana Room,’ she recalls. ‘I used to work there and it was very popular. The most popular dish, especially with the men, was Chicken Maryland. But we also had things like Lobster Mornay and Lobster Thermadore on the menu, and they were all about $2. And we were so flat out all the time. I had a

section of twenty-eight tables and on busy nights I’d clear the tables and reset two or three times. If you talk to any of the old members, they’d all say the meals were great value for money and they were great. ‘We also used to have a pretty strict dress code up in the restaurant. When Jon English came to perform one night, he came up to the dining room to have a meal but they wouldn’t let him in because he didn’t have a collar on his shirt. ‘A bit later on, we also had the Bungarribee Room as a dining option. That was basically an update of the snack bar we used to have downstairs when I first started here. There was a steak house where the Tingha Palace is now.’ Federal Member for Greenway Michelle Rowland remembers both the steak house and Chinese restaurant well. ‘I joined the Blacktown Workers Club when I was eighteen, some time ago now,’ she says. ‘I remember it being where our family would go for a night out – that was my first experience of the Club. There was the Tingha Palace, which was a fabulous Chinese restaurant, and before that the Park Lane Steak House. As we got older, my friend and I became members and would go there often to see free bands. We didn’t do what young people do now, which is go out in the city. We all lived locally and it was a $5 cab ride home so we stayed local for our entertainment and the entertainment at the Workers Club was always very good.’

BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee





6 1.

2. 3. 4. 5.




At the Western Sydney Wanderers season launch, Club-sponsored Jason Trifiro meets Club marketing manager Tracey Russell and marketing coordinator Andrew Quigg. Club members watch a Justin Timberlake concert from the Club’s Allphones Arena corporate box. The Club sponsors the A-League team Western Sydney Wanderers. Wanderers player Jason Trifiro. Members prepare to be entertained at Allphones Arena. Members win the chance to sit in the Club’s corporate box at the Wanderers’ home ground, Pirtek Stadium.

Chapter 4

’One of the greatest initiatives is the use of the corporate box at Allphones Arena. People who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to attend concerts and other events like that get the opportunity just by using the Club’s facilities.’ Workers Club member Paul Wynne remembers the revolutionary Hi-Lights Revolving Restaurant as being better than just good. ‘The revolving restaurant got rave reviews,’ he says. ‘It was a bit pricey but it was a genuine five-star restaurant and somewhere to take someone if you wanted to impress them.’ But what truly impresses Wynne and the wider membership are the new innovations the Club has introduced to maintain engagement. ‘The Club has had to look at what the community wants in order to stay relevant,’ he says. ‘And I believe they’ve done that and have made significant gains in the last couple of years. One of the greatest initiatives is the use of the corporate box at Allphones Arena. People who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to attend concerts and other events like that get the opportunity just by using the Club’s facilities. Not only do they get to see the show, they’re taken out there by bus, wined and dined and then brought home by bus too.’ By dining at any of the Workers clubs, attending shows or playing the gaming

machines, members earn the chance to go into the draw to win a seat in the Club’s corporate box at Allphones Arena. Employees who volunteer for charity events or who deserve a reward are also given the opportunity to attend. Loyal employee Denise Stevens recently saw Katy Perry from the luxury of the box. ‘It was mind-blowing,’ she enthuses. ‘And it’s fantastic that our members have the chance to experience something like that. There are many ways members can earn the chance and be rewarded although most opportunities to enter are won through spending in the Club.

you’re a member of the Club, you get the chance to do these things.’ On top of these opportunities, members can accumulate points and trade them in for prizes, tickets or food and beverage vouchers. ‘We also have holiday units we rent to members at a cheap rate,’ says Toms. ‘There’s always something going on: raffles, poker nights, bands, big screens featuring live sport. There’s always some sort of entertainment and something to suit everyone. We’re about rewarding our members. It’s something extra special.’

‘We have car draws every couple of months and they always seem to draw big numbers in. For the Club’s 60th anniversary there will be a car winner drawn out every month.’ Members can also win a seat in the corporate open air box the Workers Club now has for the Western Sydney Wanderers A-League games. ‘Like the Allphones Arena box, we’re offering the same sort of thing with the Western Sydney Wanderers,’ Kerry Toms explains. ‘Nobody else does that. If


A Sporting Engagement The Workers Club sporting bodies take their commitment to the local community seriously. Not only do they provide well-organised and safe sporting competitions but they provide a social outlet for many families and help to raise funds for other charitable organisations within the community. For Workers Soccer Club’s Brett Fielding, engaging the community in sports and giving back to the community is at the heart of what they do. ‘We base ourselves on the fact that we’re a family-based club,’ he says. ‘Of course we’re competitive, but there is very much a social aspect to belonging to a club like ours. And we like to contribute to the community in other ways too. Over the last five or six years, we’ve run a charity event and have raised over $30,000. Each year we choose a charity to support and over the years we’ve chosen the McGrath Foundation, men’s cancer, Westmead Children’s Hospital and oesophageal cancer. Last year we did SIDS for Kids. It’s a coloured sock theme and it’s now become such a big part of the soccer community that it’s been worked into the association fixture. All the teams from the clubs playing at our ground that weekend – the players, coaches, refs, everyone – wear coloured socks and make a donation. The field is decorated and representatives from the charity attend. The last couple of years we’ve had a couple of Western Sydney Wanderers players turn up. It’s a brilliant weekend and we’re very proud to have been able to support our community this way.’ The real heroes of the Workers sporting clubs are not found on the sporting fields. They are the volunteers who run

the clubs, the coaches who impart their wisdom and the parents who ferry the children from venue to venue. The level of engagement from members, many of whom juggle their sporting club commitments around paid employment, is remarkable. Indeed, Brett Fielding believes in many cases the time volunteers give to their sporting clubs amounts to full-time work. ‘There’s no “off season”. Our Saturday competitions run betweens 9am and 7.30pm and on Sundays, our first kick-off is 9am and last kick-off is 3pm, so there’s the weekend gone,’ Fielding says. ‘Our season starts in April and runs through to September. Once the season is finished, we’ve got to organise presentations, organise trophies, book catering for the junior and senior presentations, have our AGM and then I’ve got to do the association presentation. After that, we have to do all the paperwork for our affiliation for the following season, do the paperwork for fair trading because we’re an affiliated body, then paperwork to fill in our club questionnaire. We have to have our books audited by the Club so have to make sure they’re all in order, then there are the club registrars meetings, association meetings, and organising our involvement with the children’s Christmas party. And now, because of the success of the A-League, we’re getting all these calls from new parents wanting to register their kids to play soccer, so we’re fielding calls all the time. Online registrations start in the first week in January, then we have to get teams organised and organise trials. So it’s a big commitment, but just seeing the kids run out onto the field with their mates in a safe and well-organised competition makes it all worthwhile.’

BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB’S CHRISTMAS PARTIES The Club hosts its annual Children’s Christmas Party on the first Sunday of December each year. The event has been held for more than forty years.

Chapter 5


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

When twenty-six people gathered at a public meeting in Blacktown on January 23, 1955, the aim was to discuss the formation of a workers club for the Blacktown branch of the ALP.


NON-POLITICAL AND NON-SECTARIAN. On day one of its existence, the Blacktown Workers Club made a stance to be inclusive and, ever since, the Club has continued with that philosophy,


regardless of race, gender, and religious or political beliefs. The Blacktown Workers Club’s doors are open to everyone.


Chapter 5

Women Work Too The Blacktown Workers Club established a precedent in 1955 that the Club has stringently followed since. After voting unanimously to be non-political and nonsectarian, then followed a debate about what the club should be named. Again, foundation members headed down a path of inclusiveness. ‘It was originally suggested that the Club should be called the Blacktown Workingman’s Club,’ Club vice president and life member Les Winters says. ‘But this name was knocked back because if we registered under that name, it would preclude women from signing up as members. So, it was moved at that first meeting that we should be called the Blacktown Workers Club. It was passed unanimously.’ In 1979, Shirley Carpenter became the Club’s second woman to take a seat on the board of directors. She followed Pat Newton, who took her seat in 1971. Carpenter says the Club has always treated women fairly. ‘I don’t ever recall there being any discrimination and women were allowed to become members from day one,’ she says. ‘Jack Robinson was one of the original members, and his wife was a member too, and so too were Keith Queen and his wife, Marie. When the Club first formed a woman had to be nominated by her husband or father to become a member, which was merely a sign of the times, but never were women precluded from joining based on the fact that they were women.’

While the books were always open to women, often members’ wives would not take up membership, Les Winters recalls. ‘Women were allowed to join from the very beginning,’ he says. ‘But as memberships were so limited – our numbers were capped – more often than not women didn’t become members because it was thought it would be better to leave memberships available to those who would use the Club more. So usually women were signed in by their husbands or fathers instead. ‘Back in those early days and right through to today, we seemed to be the preferred club in the area for women. There was no trouble here, and women were treated well. It was a safe place for women, and it still is.’ Foundation member Ernie Robson says the Club has benefitted greatly from being inclusive. ‘Our Club couldn’t have done what it did, moving from the Tin Shed to Campbell Street, without having women as members too,’ he says. ‘Our Club’s always welcomed everyone. It didn’t matter what you were – a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer, a brickie, whatever – our Club was for working people and I thought that was a great thing. I remember that there was a working men’s club in Cronulla and there always seemed to be problems there. I think the office bearers considered that situation too and decided that the Club would be a better place with women included.’ It is not just in memberships that women are welcomed; they also make up sixty per cent of the Club’s employees.

‘The 60:40 ratio of women to men also applies at management level,’ Club general manager Neale Vaughan says. ‘It’s not something we actively went out to achieve, I guess it’s because our Club is often a good fit for women, especially for mums because the shifts work well around family life. And we offer a very safe working environment. I guess the fact we’ve had some members of staff work here for more than forty years indicates we’re doing something right.’ Culture Shift Something else the Club gets right is how it embraces all cultures that live and work in the Blacktown community and surrounding districts. The face of Blacktown has changed considerably over the past two decades, and the Club has successfully changed along with the demographics. ‘Back in the early days, you’d probably see Maltese and Italian people around Blacktown,’ Club welfare officer Harold Becker says. ‘But now you see people from all nations and the Club has embraced that.’ Blacktown City Council’s manager of events Peter Filmer agrees. ‘The Workers has had a pretty good ability to adapt to the cultural diversity of the city,’ he says. ‘Blacktown’s population is made up of people from 186 nations that speak 159 different languages. Thirty-eight per cent of people in Blacktown were born overseas. But I find that the Club has tapped into the cultural market really well and it’s been


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

very inclusive. The Filipino community has a very strong connection to this Club. Our population is now made up of seven per cent of people from a Filipino background and seven per cent from the Indian community, and the Club has appropriately responded.’ Neale Vaughan says the Club is constantly evolving to accommodate the needs of its changing community. ‘A lot of change has happened over the years – legislative changes, government changes and really significant changes to our demographics,’ he explains. ‘Fifty years ago, this was an Anglo-Saxon western suburb. It’s now a multicultural city. We have the largest Filipino population in Australia living here, our Indian population is growing and we have an emerging Sudanese population. We want these members of our community to come to our Club but they won’t come here unless we’re prepared to meet their needs. I think we’re doing a good job of embracing them. We do multicultural food offerings, we employ people from all backgrounds and slowly but surely we’re breaking the barriers down.

‘’As far as our entertainment goes, we’re also Finding ways to capture our multicultural community. We have Filipino international shows here and we screened a Manny Pacquiao boxing match recently.’

‘As far as our entertainment goes, we’re also finding ways to capture our multicultural community. We have Filipino international shows here and


we screened a Manny Pacquiao boxing match recently. Manny Pacquiao is a Filipino boxing hero and it packed out the Diamond Auditorium. We also had a Bollywood show for the first time in 2014 and it was so successful we booked it again for 2015. We’ve had to change and adapt to be relevant for our changing community, and it’s something our long-time members have had to accept because that’s the future of our Club. If we don’t look after them, they’ll just find somewhere else.’ You only have to take a look at the Workers Soccer Club membership to observe the changing face of Blacktown. The soccer club has actively adapted to ensure it is an inclusive organisation, club president Brett Fielding says. ‘We’ve got a very diverse social, ethnic and socio-economic membership,’ he says. ‘Having so many people from so many different cultures can be a bit of a juggling act. You’ve got to work out how to effectively integrate some cultures. Kids from some ethnic backgrounds are shy and reserved, while others are more flamboyant and sociable so you have to break down those demographic barriers and make sure everyone feels welcome and part of our club. Understanding other cultures has been a challenge we’ve faced. We’re not prejudiced against any one group, nor do we favour any one group. We provide a service for all people to come down and mix together. If you want to come down and play sport and experience other people’s cultures and have an understanding and a tolerance, then come and join our club.

Chapter 5





1. Bingo is one of the Club’s most popular and enduring activities. 2-4. The Workers’ membership reflects the Blacktown community’s multicultural population.


Chapter 5

Here are our rules, enjoy yourself. ‘In 2014, we had thirty-six teams, which is about average for us as we can only cater for so many teams because there are only two grounds for soccer. Within those thirtysix teams, we’ve got a mixture of cultures, religions and skills, and we’re happy to include them all. We’ve also got an under-16 girls’ team. Girls can play competition soccer with the boys until the age of thirteen, but once they’re thirteen, they have to go to the girls’ or women’s team. Like I say, I think we successfully accommodate everyone here at the Workers Soccer Club.’

’Friendship, for instance. I look at men and women who don’t have any family. They can come here to the Club for an outing and they’ll always get a conversation, a kind smile, and friendship.’

Federal MP for Greenway and long-time member Michelle Rowland is impressed with the Club’s inclusiveness. ‘I think the Club’s adapted very well,’ she says. ‘As we’ve had different waves of communities come into the area, I know they’ve offered a wide variety of events and entertainment to embrace those emerging communities. The Filipino and Chinese communities use the Club a lot. If you had CCTV footage from inside the Club from twenty years ago, it’d look vastly different to how it looks today. And it’s very important to adapt. The Club’s board has always taken the view of being forward-looking and inclusive and it ought to be congratulated for that.’

As well as a long-standing policy of inclusiveness, the Blacktown Workers Club’s role in the community as a place for the socially isolated also deserves acknowledgement. The Club more than accepts this responsibility – it wholly embraces it. ‘I’ve met people who come to the Club for the first time, or perhaps have been at one of our functions, and these “outsiders” are so surprised to see what we have and what we provide,’ Club president Kay Kelly says. ‘There are a lot of things this Club provides that people just don’t even realise – and I’m not talking about something physical like a show or a bar or a restaurant. Friendship, for instance. I look at men and women who don’t have any family. They can come here to the Club for an outing and they’ll always get a conversation, a kind smile, and friendship. It’s one of the things that we do best here at the Workers and it’s definitely what makes people feel comfortable here. We offer a safe and friendly environment for people who may not have any other outlet. Yes, there are clubs to join that encourage social inclusion, like the sporting clubs, the old time dancing, the small boats club and the travel club and even bingo. But just offering a place for people to go is very rewarding. Being one of the biggest brands and venues in the area, we have a role in our community to encourage social inclusion and we absolutely accept that role and love that we are that outlet for our membership.’ Member Paul Wynne concurs. ‘This Club has a very diverse role in our community,’ he says. ‘But possibly the


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

main thing is that it is a social hub, a place where people can connect and a meeting place for people in the community from all ethnic backgrounds and socio-economic backgrounds. People from all walks of life can come along and meet in a friendly atmosphere and enjoy the benefits the Club is able to provide.’ Workers Darts Club life member Mary Wootton would be lost without the Club, and the same could be said for many people within the community, she says.

’It’s like the centre of the community. I’d be lost if this place wasn’t here and a lot of people would feel the same way. It’s like my home away from home.’

‘When I come here, I look around and this place is filled with little groups sitting together,’ Wootton says. ‘You see lots of small groups of particularly older people getting together, especially on a Sunday morning, then they all come and have lunch together. For some of these people, it’s the only time they get out of the house and mix with their friends so this Club is very important to them. It’s like the centre of the community. I’d be lost if this place wasn’t here and a lot of people would feel the same way. It’s like my home away from home.’ Wootton, who even went into labour at the Club, says the Club’s attitude to inclusiveness should be commended. ‘This Club caters for everybody,’ she says. ‘The auditorium was packed out for


a gay band, for instance. The Club was jam-packed and the music was fantastic. They also look after the local Filipino community and women also feel very safe here. It’s the feel of the place that makes it so welcoming. I love walking into this Club. I meet different people, I know the staff, so there’s always someone to talk to, and you can just sit around and talk and socialise. This place gives people something to do; something to get out of bed for.’ The Blacktown Workers Club offers the community so much, Blacktown Council’s Peter Filmer says. ‘I think when you can have a central meeting point, a place where you know if you turn up there’ll be someone you know or someone to have a chat with, that makes it a vital cog in the community,’ he says. ‘Social conviviality is such an enormous thing. Yes, you can come up here and meet with friends. Yes, you can get a great meal that would cost you more to prepare at home. And, yes, the Club is filled with people who care.’ Fifty-year member Elizabeth Chippindale is proud of the Club’s attitude to inclusiveness and says the Blacktown Workers Club’s caring attitude stems as far back as she can remember. ‘I remember back when we were first members here,’ she says. ‘People went out of their way to make you feel comfortable and included. I remember that Harold Laybutt was such a lovely man, and so was Frank Dunn. They were wonderful to me, and their wives were too. I was only young when my husband Noel became

Chapter 5



a director and I felt quite awkward at the thought of attending fancy functions. But they accepted me and took me under their wing. I remember one special dinner we were at with the other board members, and I said to Noel, “Everyone’s having oysters and fancy entrees but I don’t eat that kind of food.” I felt very uncomfortable, but Noel reassured me and said I should only eat what I like. Then Frank Dunn’s wife leaned over and said, “Look love, if you don’t want to eat something, don’t eat it. If you don’t want to drink something, don’t drink it. You just do what makes you feel comfortable, love”. They were so supportive and made me feel like I belonged. I’ll be a fifty-year member in 2015 and I appreciate every one of those years.’

1. 2. 3.




The Darts Club plays its social and competitive darts on level three but it was originally played on the Club’s main floor. The Workers’ sporting clubs provide volunteers for the Children’s Christmas Party. The WorkersTable Tennis Club has a long history with the Club, forming in 1966. In 1959, the Workers Fishing Club was established.


Anti-Discrimination Act In 1977, the New South Wales State Government introduced legislation to ensure there was gender equality throughout clubs in the state. The Anti-Discrimination Act of that year included a section on registered clubs that made it illegal to refuse membership, or deny or restrict access to club premises on the basis of gender. The Blacktown Workers Club did not need to amend any of its operations in order to comply with the legislation, life member Shirley Carpenter notes. ‘Back when the Club held its first meeting, it was decided that the Club would be a workers club, not a working men’s club because they didn’t want to exclude women from the membership. They showed a lot of foresight and have been inclusive from day one.’


2 3


1. 2. 3. 4. 5.


Bingo offers Club members a place to regularly catch up while engaging in stimulating activity at the same time. The Club offers a wide variety of different cuisines across its venues. The outdoor gaming area at the Workers Sports Club is a popular meeting spot for members and visitors. The Workers’ many meeting places make the Club a ‘home away from home’. Since its opening sixty years ago, the Club has become the social centre of the community.

Chapter 6


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

When you have a membership of more than

50,000 200 employees people, some

and a brand that is instantly recognised, that comes with responsibility. Throughout its sixty-year history, the Blacktown Workers Club has never shied away from the responsibility it has to its stakeholders.

Instead, the Club embraces it, which only serves to strengthen its reputation as being a

SAFE, COMFORTABLE AND CONSIDERATE ENVIRONMENT for its members to work, rest and play.


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

Creative Trading When the Blacktown Workers Club first opened its doors in 1955, its maverick early members began trading without a liquor licence. Members rented glasses from the Club, which happened to be filled with beer. But the Club’s creativity was frowned upon by the authorities and it was only when the Club conformed and ceased its unconventional trading methods that a licence was issued. The Club learned from the experience. Since then, the Blacktown Workers Club has complied with the rules and regulations that govern the industry. It takes very seriously its responsibilities to the community it serves.

’We want to know that when our cricketers take a diving catch they won’t end up covered in bindis by offering the best-kept sporting grounds in the district. We have many responsibilities and don’t take any one of them lightly.’

‘The responsibility we take towards our members extends far beyond legislation and regulations around responsible serving of alcohol and the provision of non-smoking areas,’ Blacktown Workers Club general manager Neale Vaughan says. ‘As a Club, we have a duty of care to our members to ensure that when they use our facilities or participate with our sporting clubs they can do so in an environment where they feel safe. We want to know that our members can return home safely after an evening at the Club by offering them a courtesy bus ride to


their doorstep. We want to know that when our cricketers take a diving catch they won’t end up covered in bindis by offering the best-kept sporting grounds in the district. We have many responsibilities and don’t take any one of them lightly.’ Safety First For as long as she has been involved with the Workers Club, Shirley Carpenter says that antisocial behaviour at the Club has not been tolerated. The life member and former Club treasurer has more than forty years’ involvement with the Workers and vividly remembers dealing with those members who failed to conform to behaviour expectations. The Club had a responsibility to ensure its members felt safe, she says. ‘When I was on the board, we used to have citation meetings,’ she remembers. ‘The members who played up in the Club, they’d have to front up to one of these citation meetings and we had to sit in judgement of them. Fighting was never tolerated; it was one of the worst things that a member could do and we’d get rid of them for that. There’s never been room for antisocial behaviour at our Club. We actually pride ourselves on the fact that we are a safe environment for people to visit.’ Club president Kay Kelly agrees. ‘With responsible serving of alcohol laws, we’re very strict and we have a no-tolerance policy around swearing too,’ she explains. ‘Most people don’t want to come to the club to hear that. Particularly women, families and older people, they can sometimes

BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee


Chapter 6

feel threatened by groups using bad language, even if it’s not directed at them. We just don’t tolerate it and we ask them to leave.’Zero To Zero Tolerance Twenty years ago, Blacktown Workers Club sold more kegs of beer per week than any other venue in the southern hemisphere. It was inevitable that the introduction of drink-driving laws, random breath testing, no-smoking zones and responsible serving of alcohol (RSA) legislation was bound to affect the Club and its members. But the Club had a responsibility to its members and the community, so compliance was more important than the bottom line. The Club made the transition as seamless as possible for members by introducing measures that limited the impact, general manager Neale Vaughan says. ‘We’re the largest licensed venue in the area so we’re one of the biggest suppliers of alcohol but we have a zero tolerance to bad behaviour,’ Neale Vaughan says. ‘I’m chairman of the Liquor Accord, and we have very stringent RSA policies here. We have a responsibility to make sure our staff are well trained and that we’re considered to be a safe venue. But we also do our best to minimise the impact. By introducing the courtesy bus, for instance, we give our members an alternative to driving home.’ Club member Paul Wynne says the Workers Club handled the changes effectively. ‘There were a number of laws introduced that could have had a huge impact on

the Club but, the way I see it, the Club has handled them very well,’ he says. ‘It has a real handle on RSA laws and I have seen very few issues at this Club as a consequence of how those rules are enforced here. Antisocial behaviour is a real challenge whenever there’s alcohol in the mix but this Club doesn’t put up with any of that and has a very good handle on it. The Workers has to work diligently to be recognised as a responsible organisation but its efforts are paying off. People tell me the reasons they like coming to this Club are because it’s well run, there’s never any trouble and the Club keeps a tight lid on things. That’s a testament to everyone who works here.’

5 per cent; it’s now 1 per cent. We’ve introduced staff incentive schemes, we have a staff Christmas party, we pay bonuses based on performance and reward people on the spot if they do something out of the ordinary. We also offer more staff training so there’s greater opportunity for personal growth and promotion and, significantly, we also pay above the award wage. But when it comes to the crunch, all the staff want is a simple thank you and a pat on the back and I think we do that well. We’ve got some employees who’ve been here for forty years. You don’t work in a place for forty years unless we’re doing something right.’

And the staff at Blacktown Workers Club also clearly enjoy their place of employment. The attrition rate is remarkably low and many employees have worked at the Club for more than thirty years. Perhaps it is the regular training offered to employees or the ample opportunities to progress within the organisation, that keeps them from leaving. Employee incentives and repayment of loyalty may well be why. But more than likely it is all of the above. Employees know they are valued at the Club and that their employer takes its responsibilities towards them seriously.

Shirley O’Connor started working at the Workers forty-three years ago and believes the Club is as loyal to her as she is to the Club.

‘Of our 215 staff members, sixty per cent are female, including in the management team,’ Neale Vaughan says. ‘I think we look after our employees well. We have a responsibility to, and that shows in the number of people who leave their employment here. About seven years ago, our staff attrition rate was about

‘I was working at another club in Blacktown when one of the girls who worked there with me came over to work at the Workers. She said I should come over to the Workers too,’ O’Connor recalls. ‘My husband liked the idea because he was a member here, and my friend told me they paid over the award and were really good to their employees. That was back in 1972. I walked into the Snack Bar one day and asked if they had any vacancies – that’s how you used to get employed in those days – and they said they did have a vacancy and could I start on Sunday. So I did an eight-hour shift that Sunday and have worked there ever since. ‘In 1980, I started work in the cloakroom. The woman who had


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

’I’m really proud of this Club and the way that it gives people somewhere to go and a place to meet other people. Social inclusion is so important and our Club is the perfect place for that because it’s got something for everyone.’

worked there turned sixty so she had to leave. I applied for her job and got it. I’d take the members’ bags, their shopping, their coats and I’ve never lost a thing in there. I did fourteen hours a week and didn’t want to work full-time because by then I was widowed. I thought I’d hang in there ‘til I got my pension at fifty. But I stayed and the Club accommodated me, giving me extra shifts so I could make extra money at times. I loved it there and this place always treated me well. ‘For quite some time there’d been talk about closing the cloakroom and I came in one day in mid-2014 and it was closed. I was only working three hours a week at the time so it would have been a perfect time for the Club to get rid of me but I asked what they had for me instead, and they kept me on. They didn’t have to do that. I now collect glasses and dishes and when I finish my shift, I have a cup of coffee and I’m ready to go again. For me, coming to work is like a social occasion now. I get to see faces I know and chat to people I’ve known for more than forty years.’


Meet and Greet The Blacktown Workers Club has a responsibility to provide a place for people within the community to gather. Social inclusion is an important factor for good health and wellbeing. ‘For so many people, the Club gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning,’ Club welfare officer Harold Becker says. ‘It gives people a place to go to catch up with their friends, to have a good but reasonably priced meal and to watch some really good entertainment. There are lots of clubs affiliated with the Workers that people can join too but, for some, it’s just about having somewhere to go. As part of my role as welfare officer, I often speak to people who’ve lost their husbands or wives. They sometimes say to me, “What am I going to do now?”, and I tell them to come up to the Club. They’ll be looked after. I often see people invite others who are by themselves to join them. Widows sometimes worry that they’d have

trouble getting home from the Club but I tell them there’s a bus that we have that will drop them right at their front door. The driver waits until they’re inside and it’s only $2. Then I might ask them if they like to travel, and if they do then I give them the name of the people who run the Travel Club, or if they like to dance I refer them to the Old Tyme Dancing. And then I refer them to the Club journal that we put out every three months. That has all the contacts they need. I’m really proud of this Club and the way that it gives people somewhere to go and a place to meet other people. Social inclusion is so important and our Club is the perfect place for that because it’s got something for everyone.’ The Young Ones Social inclusion is not only a concern for the elderly. The Blacktown Workers Club also has a responsibility to provide the area’s youth with social outlets. Affiliated sports clubs offer the ideal solution,

Chapter 6 1. 2.

The 2014 Tin Shed, life members and VIP Christmas lunch. The 2014 lunch brought together seventeen of the surviving Tin Shed members.

Blacktown Workers Soccer Club president Brett Fielding says.


‘It’s difficult to imagine how much the community would suffer if the Blacktown Workers Club wasn’t here,’ he muses. ‘Without the Club, so many sporting clubs and leisure clubs that the Workers supports wouldn’t exist. Where would the kids go and what would they do? The great thing about sports, particularly team sports, is it helps people within the community by providing a social outlet. We owe it to our kids to give them something positive to do and to be surrounded by positive role models. Yes, there is a cost involved with playing sport but more often than not, the clubs can work out plans to help families with the costs. I know we certainly do at the soccer club. We have to make sure that sport is accessible for everyone.’ Not only do the Workers Club sporting bodies make sports easily accessible, some also provide clear pathways for children to climb their way to the top of their chosen field. The Blacktown Workers Rugby League Club has worked hard to make that possible.


‘It wasn’t that long ago that we only had nine junior teams and no senior teams,’ Workers Rugby League Club president Keith Cochran says. ‘Then in 2008 we fundraised and gained sponsorships so we could bring senior football back again after about five years without it. Just six years down the track and we have four players training in Penrith’s NSW Cup team who’ve come through our system. To get to that point, we had to change the culture around the club and created


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee


Chapter 6

a stable platform for the juniors to actually come through so they could see a true line of development. You know the rule, only 1 per cent of players go on to play first-grade football – but there are a lot of kids who are washed away because they’re simply not given the opportunity. What we’ve done is put a structure in place so that if a young lad joins our club and starts at under 6s, he can go right through up to the Ron Massey Cup without leaving our club, whereas before, once they’d got past under 15s, they’d have to leave because they didn’t have the opportunity here.’ It’s a full-time job running a sporting body like the Workers Rugby League Club, but Cochran, and other sporting body voluntary administrators like him, feel an inner responsibility to give kids real opportunities. ‘I get a buzz out of seeing our club achieve,’ he says. ‘I get a buzz out of seeing little Johnny in the under 6s learn how to kick a ball and pass a ball, and I get a kick out of giving that little Johnny the opportunity to go all the way through to the Ron Massey Cup. I, and the other guys that do it with me, we feel like we’re giving something back into the community. There probably weren’t those opportunities when I was younger so it’s good to give a kid an even break. And I don’t doubt there have been situations where, because there’s been football and training and coaches and trainers and managers in certain men’s lives, we’ve probably kept them out of jail. We’ve given them something to aspire to and some discipline in their lives. That’s what we do.

’We can’t make a profi t and take it as profit. Our profit has to be reinvested in making the premises better, by adding something or diversifying, or providing amenities.’ ‘The Ron Massey Cup and the Sydney Shield Cup were played live on Fox Sport last year and two blokes that played for us in 2013 actually played for Mounties in the Ron Massey Cup grand final, and I was sitting there going, “We gave that kid that opportunity”.’ Opportunity Knocks

‘At the end of the day, our members own this club. We can’t make a profit and take it as profit. Our profit has to be reinvested in making the premises better, by adding something or diversifying, or providing amenities. It’s a huge responsibility but one we willingly take to ensure our Club remains strong well into the future for every one of our 52,000 members.’

When an opportunity that could benefit the Blacktown Workers Club members presents itself, the Club’s board is duty-bound to investigate it and then make an informed decision about its viability. Over the last sixty years, the Club has stood up and shouldered the responsibility to initiate change. ‘We’ve undertaken massive extensions, bought other clubs and commercial properties, built an auditorium, car parks and a sporting complex and we even bought a strip of airspace,’ Club president Kay Kelly says. ‘But we’ve also had a hand in many, many smaller decisions. We understand the responsibility we’ve been given so we give every decision our time and energy.


Helping Hand Dawn Frawley, Workers Bowls Club and Workers Netball Club Life Member ‘When we first started the netball up, we used to play out at Granville. One day, we had about seven junior teams all heading out there. We met at the Club and were all ready to catch the train to head out to Granville but there was a train strike. So we came back into the Club and they put an announcement over asking for parents to help drive the kids down there. But this member put his hand up to take us all to Granville in his truck. So, we threw the whole lot of them in the back of the truck – can you imagine that happening these days? I even had a pram with me. Anyway, the member drove us all the way to Granville and then he drove us back home again once we’d finished. After that, the Workers decided that we were representing them and they did the generous and responsible thing and put a bus on for us to take us there and back for all future games. But you should’ve seen all these kids in the back of the truck. It was such an experience.’

1-2. The Club’s netball future is in safe hands.



Chapter 7

We are PROUD

BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

As members stood side by side, spade and trowel in hand, toiling away to erect their first clubhouse, they were united in their efforts.



To this day, the Blacktown Workers Club is a proud place, proud of its pioneering, supportive, inclusive, responsible and engaging ethos.

But mostly, the Club is proud of its people – the employees, the board and, most importantly, the 52,000 members that make the Blacktown Workers Club what it is today.


Chapter 7

People Power When the Blacktown Workers Club swung open its doors in 1955, its membership might have been small, but it was ambitious and committed. Sixty years later, its membership is anything but small. The Club now boasts 52,000 members and it has grown from a tin shed with a small bar and a couple of gaming machines into a multimilliondollar business with assets of over $100 million. The secret to its modern-day success lies with its people, just as it did in the Club’s earliest days. ‘I remember how committed some of those very early members were to the Club,’ Club vice president and life member Les Winters says. ‘Harold Laybutt was a busy man. He had a joinery shop and was an iceman so would deliver ice and wood. He was very smart and very dedicated, but he gave so much time and energy to building this Club up, and it was hard work. But he and so many others back then, they lived for it. My father was one of them. He was so passionate about this place. He used to come home singing this little song, “The more we spend the bigger we grow, the more we spend the bigger we grow.” It would drive my mum crazy. They all worked so hard for this place and were so determined to make the place grow. So when we had grown enough and made the move here to Campbell Street, they must have been so proud.’ The foundation members’ drive to succeed has filtered through the generations.

‘The answer to the question “What makes this Club successful?” is easy,’ Club president Kay Kelly says. ‘It’s the members, it’s got to be. Just like it was back when we first started, it’s the members who make this Club what it is. If you haven’t got the members, you haven’t got a club. I’m very proud of them. I’m also very proud of what the Club does for the community and I’m incredibly proud of our staff. In fact, I’m proud of everything we do. The relationship we have with our members, the way the members back me and the board... We work as a team and think with our hearts a lot but, because we are always committed to the interests of our members, we have to keep on looking at the bottom line. I couldn’t be prouder of the job that we do.’ Long-time employee Kerry Toms agrees. ‘The members are everything to this Club,’ she says. ‘We value our members so much and we work very hard to make being a member of the Workers worthwhile. And that’s why we offer so much. You’d be hard pressed not to find something that interests you, and I think the members know that and appreciate what we offer.’ But it is how the members give back that impresses Workers Bowls Club life member Dawn Frawley. ‘Although the Club gives us a yearly grant, we still have to fundraise to support ourselves and our members always come to the party,’ she says. ‘We have raffles and other weekly fundraising activities where any money we make goes

towards our uniforms and the running of our club, and things like trophies and break-up parties. They’re always supported. And at Christmas, we ask for people to bring in something so we can make up a hamper. We always end up with enough donated goods to make up five hampers. We’ve got very good members and we’re proud of our club.’ Club welfare officer Harold Becker sees the Club members’ generosity of spirit every day. ‘I’m just proud of its people more than anything else,’ he says. ‘They’re so friendly and happily invite people who have no one to sit with to join their groups. Before I started out as welfare officer at the Club, I didn’t really know what a lot of people did outside of their time at the Club, but when I began the job, my eyes were opened. I was amazed by the number of volunteers that are out there. I’d go up to the Blacktown Hospital and bump into the pink ladies, and they’re members of the Club. I’d do a visit in Westmead Hospital and bump into three people volunteering there who are our members and who also volunteer for Meals on Wheels. And without our members who volunteer at the Club’s sporting and leisure clubs, many of those clubs wouldn’t exist. I’m proud of our membership and I’m proud to be a member. In fact, all my family are members, even my granddaughters. When my father, who was a Club life member, passed away, my youngest granddaughter took his membership number, number 141. This makes me very proud.’


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

The Spirit of Giving While Becker sees first hand how members contribute to the community every day, the Club’s contribution to Blacktown and its people is something to be very proud of too, Kay Kelly says. ‘A lot of our members are very passionate about our Club and I think a big part of that is because they like what we stand for and what we do for our community,’ she says. ‘Some people think clubs are just gambling dens and just a way to make money, but that’s not the case here. We provide a lot to the community, we’re an icon in this community and I want for us always to be that. We make a lot of contributions to the Blacktown Hospital, and donate thousands and thousands of dollars through Club grants. A percentage of all gaming revenue has to be returned to the local community but we always give over and above that percentage. We supply to a lot of the local smaller organisations like Computer Pals, for instance, who teach people how to use computers. Without support from organisations like ours, I’m not sure they could continue with their work.

’A percentage of all gaming revenue has to be returned to the local community but we always give over and above that percentage.’

‘Our members can’t help but feel proud when they see for themselves how they’ve contributed via their membership to places like the Blacktown Hospital. When we make


a donation to organisations, we invite their representatives to a dinner at our auditorium and present the donation to them in front of our members so the members can see what we’re doing with their money. We make sure our members know that we couldn’t do it without them.’ Board vice president Terry O’Loughlin puffs with pride when the Club’s generosity is acknowledged. ‘When you go to a function and they say that the Blacktown Workers Club donated this or did that, out goes your chest because you know that without our help, they’re gone, they’ve folded,’ he muses. Member Paul Wynne also feels pride knowing that, through his membership, he is making a contribution to his local community. ‘There are lots of small things that the Club does, which may seem small in the grand scheme of things,’ he says. ‘But to the person or group receiving it, it’s momentous. And that’s exactly what the Club needs to do, to continue that type of work and give these small groups the chance to continue their work.’ Life member Shirley Carpenter says the Club’s commitment to giving helps the Blacktown community to thrive. ‘Since I resigned from the board in 2009, I’ve been able to sit back and reflect on what the Club means to our community,’ she says. ‘I look at things like the euchre club, which has been around for a very long time and which means so much to

Chapter 7

Blacktown Workers Club proudly accepted the award for Welfare and Social Inclusion at the 2015 Clubs & Community Awards.


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

those who belong to it. And we have the sporting clubs, men’s and women’s golf, over-sixties social bowls, a small boats club and a travel club that arranges trips for groups. We’re so important to them. And we’ve always done a lot for the children – like through the children’s Christmas party – and we do a lot for the pensioners and seniors’ sporting bodies. They’re all subsidised by the Club. I think we’re one of the most important individual groups of the community. We are so member-oriented and have always been open-handed with charities. We’ve been super supporters of Blacktown Hospital over the years, funding a dialysis machine and brand-new buses to the hospital, which were used to transport people in wheelchairs. I’m so proud of that, and I don’t think we could have done any more for the hospital than what we’ve done. ‘I’ve always been very proud of my association with the Club. It’s getting on towards half of my life that I’ve been involved with the Club now, so I’d like to think I’ve given back, but what the Club’s given me is immeasurable – the friendships, the loyalties, the fun and the good staff. It’s been a great part of my life and always will be.’ Foundation member Ernie Robson and his wife Maureen are also proud of their long association with the Club. ‘We’ve had a wonderful time as members of this Club,’ he says. ‘We watched it grow from nothing and gradually build up into this wonderful place that it is today. Every few years we’d see an alteration, an extension, the purchase of something


new, and when you see that, you know the Club’s moving ahead and not going backwards. We’ve travelled all over Australia and of all the clubs we ever went to, we always say the same thing: it’s very hard to find a club that comes anywhere near this one.’ While general manager Neale Vaughan also takes pride in how the Club gives to charitable organisations, how the Workers gives back to the general community on a day-to-day basis also satisfies him. ‘Our Club is comfortable, it’s safe, friends are here and our members feel like it’s their second home,’ he says. ‘The fact that we can give that to them makes me very proud. Members can come and see quality entertainment at a reasonable price here and can get value for money right across the board. They know the staff and the staff treat them like they’re part of the family. It offers a home away from home and for a lot of our members it really is.’ Blacktown Council’s manager of events, Peter Filmer, also acknowledges the Club’s contribution to the district. ‘As for the Club’s contribution to the community, forget the fiscal contribution, which is most significant, it’s those subclubs within the Club,’ he says. ‘You’ve got your fishing club, your rugby league, your soccer, your bowls, and the list goes on, and it’s those sub-clubs that work within the Club itself, well that’s your fabric. This Club is part of the fabric of our community and always has been.’

A Place in History While the Blacktown Workers Club is undeniably forward-thinking, it also acknowledges its rich history. ‘The best way we can honour our history here is through our annual Old Tin Shed lunches,’ general manager Neale Vaughan says. ‘We bring our Tin Shedders, those original members who started the Club, our VIP fifty-year members and our life members together for a function to celebrate our rich history and acknowledge their contributions. We also have a quarter-century night every year, where we honour our next batch of twenty-five-year members that come through. We now have 5000 twenty-fiveyear members. We’ll always recognise our past because it’s the past that’s got us to where we are now.’ Honouring individual past members is another proud tradition of the Club. ‘One thing this club has always had in its culture is its commitment to naming bars, lounges and other facilities after previous long-serving members who’ve put a lot of work into the Club,’ Vaughan says. ‘A number of clubs don’t do that now but our board insists that we recognise achievements. The HE Laybutt Complex, for example. Harold Laybutt was the man who got us the land so, to honour his contribution, we named the complex after him. The newest bowling green is named after the late Jack Sturt, a previous president and longserving member and bowler. It’s how we recognise those who’ve contributed to our Club.’

Chapter 7

Life Members George Stewart Shirley Carpenter Kay Kelly Leslie Bassett 1

Mark Cowgill Brian Winters Keith Queen James Buckley Kenneth O’loughlin Maureen Mackey David Weir Werner Rauch Jutta Metzner Horst-Dieter Metzner James Santas


1. The Club’s inaugural quarter-century members are celebrated. 2. A group of the Tin Shed members catch up in 2014.


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee


Chapter 7 Some members of the board at Workers Hubertus Country Club.

’We’re looking at options to build a new sporting complex with a centre of excellence. We’re looking at things like child care and seniors living.’

General Manager – Neale Vaughan

Blacktown mayor, Stephen Bali, says it’s important to take pride in your past. ‘It’s really important that we honour the legacies of those people who started this Club,’ he says. ‘We must celebrate with pride the Tin Shedders who had the foresight to establish such an important club, one that provides such social benefit and adds to the social fabric of Blacktown. The foresight of the Tin Shedders who saw the opportunity in a city that would have been quite rural back then should never be forgotten. They looked around and said they wanted a club that could provide an outlet for working families to work, rest and play, and without doubt, they achieved it.’ Looking Ahead While the Blacktown Workers Club knows how to celebrate its past, it also has its eyes firmly set on the future. ‘In the next ten years, I think we’ll still be an icon of the community and I believe that we’ll have a lot of other things

that’ll bring in extra revenue for the Club,’ president Kay Kelly says. ‘And, importantly, I think we’ll still be a place that all members can be very proud of. Our future looks secure and we’re not anticipating a drop in membership so we’ll continue to move ahead and play a major role in Blacktown and the community beyond.’ ‘We’re only going to get bigger and better,’ employee Kerry Toms says. ‘We’ve got that expanding area out at Kellyville and the Ponds and there are families moving in there all the time so we’ll definitely keep growing. And the fact that the management and board are looking at diversifying can only help secure that future. I’m just so proud to have played just a small part in the way our Club has grown and I’m very excited about what the future brings.’ Action is being taken to ensure the Blacktown Workers Club remains a place members are proud of, Neale Vaughan says.

‘We’ve got to get away from the standard club model of relying on just the gaming, bar, food and entertainment because it’s become a lot tougher for clubs to operate with so many changes to legislation and compliance,’ he explains. So we’ve been working over the last couple of years on a diversification model. We’re looking at options to build a new sporting complex with a centre of excellence. We’re looking at things like child care and seniors living. And even here on Campbell Street, there’s the opportunity to earn rental income within this building, as we only really use 30 per cent of the floor space. So our model is to diversify away from core club traditional offerings like food, beverage and gaming. We’ve bought properties across the road and rent those out and our plan is to buy more commercial properties. Our small, single-level car park, we’ll lease that out to earn revenue. The amalgamation with the Hubertus Country Club, which is about 500 metres from where the Badgery’s Creek airport is earmarked, is a really good example about how we’re protecting our future


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

Proud staff members of the Workers Blacktown Club Group.

and we’ll also consider looking at residential possibilities. Our model is to think outside the square to survive. The clubs that don’t do that, we’ll be happy to take them over. Financially, we’re probably the strongest club in New South Wales.’ Vaughan has every reason to be proud of the Club he leads. ‘I think what we’ve done around sustainability, what we’ve done with the White Ribbon Foundation, innovations like the Allphones Arena and Western Sydney Wanderers corporate boxes, and our positive workplace culture are things to


be proud of,’ he says. ‘But I think carrying on the good work of the past boards and managers is what I’m most proud of. We’ve been strategic with our thinking and each department has a business plan that maps out the future. It’s a terrific environment in which to work. We reward our staff and offer career progression opportunities, and we get a lot of input from our staff because without them the place can’t run. The fact there’s so many long-time employees shows we’re doing something right. ‘History is something that’s very strong in this Club, and that’s something we will

always celebrate. But our future is our greatest priority. We want to make sure we are as relevant and important to our community and our members tomorrow as we have been over the last sixty years. With the backing of our members, our community and our employees, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be celebrating the success of the Blacktown Workers Club for many more years to come. ‘We’re debt free, we’re cashed up and we’re strong. Now that’s something to be proud of.’

Chapter 7

Life Members of Sporting Sub Clubs Mary Wootton, Workers Darts Club Life Member ‘Every time I represent this club, I wear our uniform and my twentyfive year membership badge with pride. I’m very proud that I’ve been associated with the Club for as long as I have and proud of what we’ve achieved. And that pride has been passed on to my son, Kieran. He’s now playing for our darts club, too. I remember buying him a Workers Club membership for his eighteenth birthday. It was the only thing he wanted.’

Dawn Frawley, Workers Bowls Club and Workers Netball Club Life Member ‘I’m very proud to be associated with my clubs. I’ve gotten a lot out of the bowls and netball clubs, like wonderful friends and camaraderie, and we’ve had great success, winning the number one bowls pennant competition fifteen times, including nine in a row. But I’m also proud that I’ve put back in. I’ve given lots of time and energy and done things like learn to be an umpire so I could help out and, like so many people, if there’s anything on at the clubs, like fundraising efforts or major competitions, I always try to be there. But I was still surprised when I received my life memberships. It was just terrific and I was very honoured. We had a morning tea where I was presented with my bowls life membership and my two daughters were invited, and they read out all the things that I’d done with the sporting clubs over the years and I thought: “I must get a copy of that so they can read it out at my funeral.”’

Peter McDonald, Workers Cricket Club Life Member ‘I used to come to the Club as a young kid. Mum and Dad were both members. Dad worked a lot so he didn’t come in too often but he’d sometimes come up and put a few dollars in the machines and have dinner up here, but Mum was a bingo nut and would play five nights a week. I remember coming up here for my eighteenth birthday party. Mum and Dad gave me an envelope and I opened it up – inside was a cheque for $1000 for my eighteenth birthday but there was also a Blacktown Workers Club membership badge. I didn’t even notice the cheque, I just noticed the badge. I was so thrilled to be a member and be able to come up to the Club by myself if I wanted to. To go on to receive a life membership for a club that carries the Workers name makes me very proud.’


BLACKTOWN WORKERS CLUB 60 Years Diamond Jubilee

Birthday Messages ‘Thanks for all the years and all the help that you’ve given the darts club, and for always supporting us and making us feel included.’ MARY WOOTTON Workers Darts Club (Life Member)

‘Congratulations. Thanks for being a good sport in the local area and providing the opportunity for people to come together in a healthy way to work, rest and play.’ COUNCILLOR STEPHEN BALI Blacktown City Mayor

‘Happy birthday from one of its oldest children.’

‘Thank you for all the support you show all the sporting bodies. Without you, many of them wouldn’t survive.’ PETER MCDONALD Workers Cricket Club (Life Member)

BRETT FIELDING President, Workers Soccer Club

‘Thank you for everything you’ve done for us, from the juniors right through to us older ones. You’ve supported us all so well over the years and I hope the Club goes ahead in leaps and bounds well into the future.’ DAWN FRAWLEY Workers Bowls Club (Life Member) and Workers Netball Club (Life Member)

‘The Club’s done wonderfully well to come from a tin shed to where it is now and I’m sure it’ll continue to move forward in the future. What it does so well is help the local community, not just by providing these fantastic facilities to its members, but by helping other local organisations too. Congratulations on your sixty years of service to the community.’ PROFESSOR ROBERT DENNISS Head of Cardiology, Blacktown Mount Druitt Hospital


Chapter 7

‘Congratulations on sixty years of service. There are many people in our community who’ve benefitted from the Workers Club without even realising it and I think if they knew, they’d say happy birthday and congratulations too.’ MICHELLE ROWLAND Federal MP for Greenway

‘The Blacktown Workers Club is a well-known brand that started with a few passionate people in Blacktown who wanted to have a place to go for socialising. Their foresight, their forward thinking, their future planning and their expertise is why we are who we are today – one of the biggest and well-known brands in the industry and the most financially stable club in the state. Congratulations Workers.’

‘Happy birthday Workers. I think it’s wonderful how much money the Club gives to charities and how the Club can afford to give so much and yet still successfully run three clubs. The heart equipment bought for the Blacktown Hospital helped my husband Noel when he had a mild stroke in 2013, so I’ll be forever grateful. Here’s to the next sixty years.’



General Manager, Blacktown Workers Club

Fifty-Year Member, Blacktown Workers Club

‘Keep growing. I hope we continue to grow and continue to be strong.’

‘Keep doing what you’re doing and expanding to service other communities too.’ SHIRLEY O’CONNOR Longtime Employee, Blacktown Workers Club

LES WINTERS Life Member, Blacktown Workers Club


Every effort has been made to identify copyright holders of material where appropriate. Blacktown Workers Club and the publisher would be happy to hear from any copyright holders who haven’t been acknowledged. For a full list of references and source material, please contact the publisher or Blacktown Workers Club. All material unacknowledged in reference is the property of Blacktown Workers Club or has been reproduced with permission. Some of the content is based on personal recollections, and while every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of captions, comments and credits in this book, Blacktown Workers Club and the publisher make no warranty, representation or undertaking whether expressed or implied, nor do they assume any legal liability, whether direct or indirect, or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information. First published by Bounce Books in 2015 on behalf of Blacktown Workers Club. Copyright © Blacktown Workers Club. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form without written permission from the copyright holder.

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry Title: Blacktown Workers Club 60 Years Diamond Jubilee. Author: Catherine Butterfield Subjects: Blacktown Workers’ Club. Working-men’s clubs--New South Wales--Blacktown--History. Blacktown (N.S.W.)--Social life and customs. Working-women’s clubs--New South Wales--Blacktown--History. Dewey Number: 367.99441 ISBN: 9780992315986 (hardback) Interviews and writing by Catherine Butterfield for Bounce Books; Photography by Deborah Abesser Photography for Bounce Books; Design by Alicia Grady, Bounce Books; Production management by Anna-Lena Janzen, Bounce Books; Editing and Proofing by Erin Richards and Jessica Obersby for Bounce Books; Project management for Blacktown Workers Club by Tracey Russell. Printed by 1010 Printing International.

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Blacktown Workers Club Group 55 Campbell Street, Blacktown, NSW 2148

Blacktown Workers Club – 60 Year Diamond Jubilee  
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